Conor Benn-Chris Eubank Jr Fight Off
The positive drug test produced by Conor Benn forced organizers to cancel his highly anticipated family-feud fight with Chris Eubank Jr. on Thursday.
They were scheduled to fight in a 12-rounder at a catch weight of 157 pounds in the main event of a Matchroom Boxing card on DAZN at The O2 – long sold out – in London.
However, Benn failed a Voluntary Anti-Doping Association test for the banned substance Clomifene, a drug used to treat infertility in women but one that produces increased testosterone in men and is banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency.
— Matchroom Boxing (@MatchroomBoxing) October 6, 2022
“After discussions with various parties, we have taken the decision to formally postpone the bout between Chris Eubank Jr. and Conor Benn,” promoters Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing and Kalle Sauerland of Wasserman Boxing said in a joint statement.
“It is undeniable that the British Boxing Board of Control’s decision to withdraw their sanctioning was procedurally flawed and without due process. That remains a legal issue between the promoters and the Board which we intend to pursue. However, whilst there are legal routes to facilitate the fight taking place as planned, we do not believe that it is in the fighters’ interests for those to be pursued at such a late stage, or in the wider interests of the sport.
“As promoters, we take our obligations and duties very seriously, and a full investigation will now need to take place. We will be making no further comment at this time and news for ticket holder refunds will follow.”
Benn provided a urine sample to VADA on Sept. 1 and the positive result was returned on Sept. 23, a source with knowledge of the test told Fight Freaks Unite/Big Fight Weekend.
On Wednesday, England’s Daily Mail reported Benn’s failed the test, which engulfed the fight in chaos and uncertainty if it would go forward.
Hearn, who promotes Benn, and Sauerland, who is Eubank’s promoter, fought to keep the fight on because Benn’s positive test was with VADA, which the fighters privately contracted with to perform testing, and not one given by the UK Anti-Doping Agency. UKAD handles testing for the British Board of Boxing Control, which regulates the sport in the U.K., and Benn had not failed one of its tests or been suspended.
Even after the promoters put out a statement on Wednesday in which they acknowledged the adverse finding in Benn’s test, they claimed the fight would go forward, mainly because Benn’s ‘B’ sample had not yet been tested. But virtually every fight canceled due to a positive drug test is based on the ‘A’ sample result rather than a ‘B’ sample result that can take weeks to test.
Eubank (32-3, 23 KOs), 33, who was coming down in weight from middleweight and facing fines if he was overweight and a strict rehydration clause, and Benn (21-14 KOs), 26, a welterweight moving up 10 pounds for the bout, both also said on Wednesday they wanted the fight to go on – no surprise given the millions they stood to earn that they now won’t receive.
But the British Boxing Board of Control issued its own statement on Wednesday in which it said the fight had been “prohibited as it is not in the interests of boxing.”
Promoters contemplated seeking an injunction to force the BBBofC to allow the fight since it was not one of its tests that Benn failed. But in the end the BBBofC did not budge and, according to sources, there was pressure from DAZN to call off the fight. DAZN, which was bankrolling the event, was putting the fight on its streaming service as a pay-per-view in the United Kingdom and Ireland and expected big returns.
The fight was a match of second generation boxers whose heavily hyped showdown had rekindled the British public’s memories of the two epic 1990s world title bouts between their fathers, Nigel Benn and Chris Eubank Sr.
Eubank Sr. knocked Benn out in the ninth round of a WBO middleweight title fight in 1990 and they fought to a disputed split draw before some 47,000 in a WBC/WBO super middleweight unification fight in 1993. Both fights aired on free television across the U.K.
Although there was no title on the line for the fight between their sons and an obvious weight disparity that necessitated the catch weight, the fight was expected to do huge business.