Gerald McClellan and Nigel Benn were two of the biggest punchers in the middleweight division in the 1990s. When McClellan traveled to London to challenge for Benn's WBC super middleweight title in February of 1995, McClellan sported a 31-2 record, with 29 of his victories coming by way of stoppage.
In 1991 he had captured the WBO middleweight belt by TKOing John "The Beast" Mugabi in the first round, dropping him three times. He'd earned the WBC title in 1993 by stopping Julian Jackson in five, later knocking him out in Round 1 of their rematch.
At 39-2-1 with 32 stoppages, Benn was a hugely popular star among British boxing fans of the era, and the New London Arena was packed when he welcomed McClellan to town.
McClellan lived up to his wrecking-ball reputation in the first round. He pounded Benn brutally against the ropes, knocking him clean out of the ring. Somehow Benn made it back into the ring and onto his feet by the count of 10.
Benn recovered quickly and the fight proceeded to turn into a back-and-forth slugfest. Then McClellan dropped Benn in vicious style again in Round 8, once more appearing to have the fight all but ended.
As Round 9 began, Benn was almost too badly beaten and exhausted to remain upright of his own accord. On guts alone he dug deep and came back strong, rocking McClellan. He picked up where he left off in the 10th, and after a particularly nasty punch, McClellan took a knee.
He made it back up for a standing eight count, then resumed fighting. Almost immediately, he suffered more punishment and once more took a knee, this time remaining down for the count.
The fight deserves to be remembered, not just for Benn's comeback from adversity, but for being one of the sport's most high profile tragedies. Immediately after the fight, McClellan collapsed in his corner. He spent two weeks in a coma, suffering permanent brain damage.
His battle to adjust to life since has required a special kind of guts. This documentary from six years after the fight shows the risk professional prize fighters take to entertain the crowds and win their own glory in this life.
Warning: it is sobering. But it might make some fans think twice before they scream at a referee for being too quick to rule a stoppage—not that the referee of this fight did anything wrong.