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Eubank-Benn II: One of 5 best British football stadium fights

| 27.05.2014

The rematch the country can’t wait to see is just days away with Carl Froch facing  George Groves for the IBF and WBA super middlweight world titles at Wembley Stadium.

With 80,000 fight fans set to watch the much anticipated rematch the bout, promoted by Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Sport, is set to become the biggest fight in British boxing history, breaking the record set by Ricky Hatton’s homecoming at the City of Manchester Stadium.

Froch, who won the first fight in controversial circumstances, is the 8/11 favourite for victory with Ladbrokes, while Londoner Groves is 6/5 to win one of the most eagerly anticipated fights in world boxing.

And with the pair following in the footsteps of the likes of Ali, Bruno, Eubank, Clazaghe and Hatton in fighting at a football stadium, our news team takes a look back in time at some of the best nights of boxing witnessed at the best venues the beautiful game has to offer:

Henry Cooper v Cassius Clay – Wembley, 1963 and Highbury, 1966

The Greatest heavyweight to ever enter the ring twice visited these shores, first as Cassius Clay and then as Mohammed Ali and on both occasions he went toe-to-toe with British hero Sir Henry Cooper.

In the first bout, widely considered as one of the best heavyweight clashes seen in Britain, Our ‘Enry had the People’s Champion reeling after catching him with his trademark ‘Ammer’ left-hook.

Controversy reigned though as Clay was helped back to his corner and allegedly given smelling salts by trainer Angelo Dundee. Whatever happened, the American recovered and went on to win the fight after opening up a vicious cut above the eye of Cooper and fight was stopped.

Three years later, The Greatest, now a world champion, was back and facing Cooper again in what was England’s first world title fight in 58 years. Now under the guise of Ali, the champ went on to claim victory at Arsenal’s Highburystadium in front of 46,000 people.

Nigel Benn v Chris Eubank – Old Trafford, 1993

This was another of the most eagerly anticipated rematches in British boxing history as Nigel Benn’s rivalry with Chris Eubank captured the public’s imagination.

This was truly a grudge match between two British adversaries who had a very real hatred for each other and after the ferocity of the first fight, which Eubank won, fans flocked in their masses to witness the second encounter unfold at Old Trafford.

In the end, the two warriors fought out a fiercely contested draw with the last round between the pair considered one of the true classics.

Oliver McCall v Frank Bruno – Wembley Stadium, 1995

Maybe this fight will be a surprise inclusion for many boxing fans but how could we leave out the night Frank Bruno finally became heavyweight champion of the world? You know what I mean Harry…

This was the last fight held at Wembley Stadium and 23,000 people turned up to watch the British fighter try to win the world title at the fourth attempt against American Oliver McCall.

The nation’s favourite Frank battled his way to a unanimous decision and what followed was a Great British party with Land of Hope and Glory belting around the national stadium and a sea of Union Jacks waving ferociously!

Joe Calzaghe v Mikkel Kessler – Millennium Stadium, 2007

Arguably the defining night of Joe Calzaghe’s career unfolded in front of passionate Welsh crowd at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.

The Italian Dragon unified the Super-Middleweight division with a breathtaking performance against unbeaten WBC and WBA champion Mikkel Kessler.

The Danish Warrior gave everything on the night but Calazaghe, backed by the 50,000-strong crowd stood firm to confirm his status as the best fighter on the planet at super-middleweight.

Ricky Hatton v Juan Lazcano – City of Manchester Stadium, 2008

If, as expected, Carl Froch v Geroge Groves breaks the record for a boxing attendance in this country, it will have beaten Ricky Hatton’s homecoming of 2008.

Fresh from his first professional defeat at the hands of Floyd Mayweather Jr, The Hitman returned home to fight Juan Lazcano in front of a huge partisan at the City of Manchester Stadium.

The 57,000 attendance broke the post-war record for a British fight but while Hatton’s performance wasn’t up to much as he held on to defend his IBO title, the atmosphere as the Manchester crowd welcomed back their beloved son will live long in the memory.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Oliver Yew