May 19, 2001 – By Clive Bernath: Legendary man in the middle Richard Steele recalls the brutal and epic battle between Nigel Benn and Chris Eubank for the WBO middleweight crown in Birmingham, England on November 18, 1990.
It was one of the most ferocious all-British battles in ring history, a war that Eubank won after nine incredibly exciting rounds. The rivalry and bitter hatred between the two at the time was intense and the pre-fight press conferences leading up to the clash just fuelled the animosity between the two even more.
And when fight time came around, the whole country ground to an almighty standstill as the nation’s fight fans became glued to their television sets to see one of the most anticipated fights ever in British boxing.
The fans were not disappointed and neither was Steele. ”That fight was a real war, a real war,” said Steele. “Benn was the champion, he was the crowd pleaser, he was everything. Eubank was the brash upstart and he came into the ring with such arrogance. He came into that ring like he knew he was gonna win.”
It was the first time Steele had ever set eyes on the enigmatic Eubank and was astounded at what he found. “ I thought to myself who is this guy, walking around like he’s a prince. But he proved that night that he could fight,” said Steele, who became an instant Eubank fan.
“Eubank’s great fighter,” said an excited Steele. “You know Eubank, he had - you know, he didn’t look like he knew what he was gonna do but he kept proving himself many times.”
Steele also revealed that he nearly stopped the fight in Benn’s favour on a number of occasions, had it not been for Eubank’s incredible powers of recovery. “There were many times in the fight where Benn had the upper hand and thought of stopping the fight in his favour,” added Steele “I thought I was gonna stop it then Eubank goes and turns it around, “I thought I’ll just sit on it a little more then I’ll stop the fight.
“I remember it was very close, me stopping it in Benn’s favour but Eubank was so focused. One reason I guess I didn’t stop the fight was because he was so calm, he never got rattled at all. And that’s why I let the fight continue.”
In round nine, Eubank started to edge ahead and finally broke the brave Benn. Backing him up in a corner, Eubank unleashed a series of unanswered blows to the weakened body of Benn.
“I just told Benn, ‘You’ve had enough.’ It was just going to get worse not any better. “ said Steele. “I could also see that his legs were getting weak. He was taking too many punches. At first he complained about the stoppage but then he accepted it was the right decision. It was a brutal fight.
“It was a brutal fight on both sides. One of the most brutal I have ever handled.”