Aberdeen Assassin Lee McAllister today confirmed he will fight on the undercard of Nigel Benn’s controversial ring return next month.
Former two-weight world champion Benn will fight for the first time in 23 years when going up against Cameroon’s Sakio Bika, 40, in Birmingham on Saturday November 23.
Now 55, Benn last fought when losing a WBO super-middleweight title contest by sixth-round stoppage to Steve Collins in November 1996.
Benn will box under the auspices of the British and Irish Boxing Authority (BIBA), the governing body McAllister has operated under since returning from a three-year retirement in 2016.
McAllister said: “To fight on the same bill as Benn is massive for me.
“To see him back was a shock to start with but it will be amazing to share a dressing room with a legend. Benn inspired me and I tried to imitate his style when younger.
“However, I soon discovered walking forward trying to be a destroyer wasn’t going to work for me.
“I was more of a mover as I had the good footwork.”
The bout will be McAllister’s first outing since defeating Richmond Djarbeng for the WBU and PBC super-welterweight titles in Aberdeen on October 5.
Ghana’s Djarbeng quit on his stool at the end of the third round.
Benn’s opponent Bika has not boxed since two bouts in 2017 but went the distance with Adonis Stevenson for the WBC light-heavyweight title in 2015.
Former WBC super-middleweight and WBO middleweight world champion Benn, aka The Dark Destroyer, has denied claims he was refused a boxing licence by the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBoC) ahead of his comeback.
The BBBoC had previously stated they informed Benn he would not be granted a licence.
Benn’s comeback has been met with criticism from many within the boxing world with Carl Frampton condemning it as a “mockery to the sport” and Benn’s former promoter Frank Warren warning the bout is “dangerous”.
McAllister, now 37, returned to the ring after retirement and understands Benn’s motives for a fight billed as “Closure”.
He said: “I understand why he is doing it.
“Benn wants one last shot for closure and I understand it is hard to walk away from a sport.
“Do I think I would make a comeback at 55? Definitely not.
“However, Benn is probably in better condition now than when he fought Sugar Boy Malinga and Steve Collins at the latter end of his first career.”
As well as the ethical debate questions have also been raised over the safety of a 55-year-old returning to boxing after more than two decades out.
BIBA introduced brain scanners to be used straight after fights in 2017 that can detect brain bleeds.
A scanner will be used after the Benn-Bika fight in Birmingham.
Benn’s career was blighted by tragedy when Gerald McLennan suffered brain damage following a stoppage defeat to the Dark Destroyer for the WBC super- middleweight title in February 1995. Four years before Michael Watson suffered severe brain injuries in a WBO super-middleweight title loss to Chris Eubank.
For his ring return Benn insists he has undergone “numerous and regular” medical investigations and periodic MRI scans in recent years to determine his fitness to box.
At the request of BIBA he has also undergone a further series of tests including another MRI scan.
McAllister said: “Benn has chosen to go with BIBA and never applied for a British Boxing Board of Control licence.
“The reason he went with BIBA is due to their high safety standards such as brain scanners ringside.
“They were not there in the era where there was the Benn fight with Gerald McLennan, and Michael Watson with Chris Eubank.
“All these things are maybe playing on Benn’s mind as he has a family and wants his safety and health looked after.”