A fight 30 years in the making has fallen apart at the eleventh hour. Chris Eubank Jr. (34-2) vs. Conor Benn (21-0) was slated to be one of the few notable bouts in a week largely devoid of major combat sports events.
Scions of two noted boxing legacies, Eubank Jr. and Benn were poised to rekindle a sporting rivalry with its roots in the early 90s, when Eubank Sr. fought a pair of closely contested bouts against Nigel Benn for the WBO—and later WBC—middleweight & super middleweight titles. The younger Benn and Eubank may not have quite reached the same heights as their championship winning namesakes, but both men have put together strong boxing careers to date and looked well situated for a high profile showdown.
All that has been thrown in the bin, now, with Sky Sports reporting that this Saturday’s bout has been cancelled following an “adverse analytical finding” in Benn’s pre-fight drug test. According to drug testing agency VADA, at least one of Benn’s provided samples turned up positive for the fertility drug Clomiphene. The substance is commonly used in the sporting world to help athletes recover from the adverse effects of steroid use.
Both Jon Jones and Brock Lesnar found themselves suspended from UFC competition after testing positive for the substance as part of the UFC’s USADA program.
“I am truly gutted that we are unable to make this fight happen on Saturday,” Benn announced in a statement released over social media, “and I’m sorry to everyone who has been affected by the postponement.
“I am still completely shocked and surprised by this and it has been a tough couple of days. My team and I will consider the next options including rescheduling the fight, but my immediate focus is on clearing my name because I am a clean athlete!”
Initially, and despite the British Boxing Board of Control’s (BBBC) refusal to sanction the bout, both Eubank and Benn sounded set on going ahead with the DAZN PPV card anyway—even if the fight could only be considered an exhibition. However, promoter Eddie Hearn has since released a statement announcing that the fight would be delayed.
“After discussions with various parties, we have taken the decision to formally postpone the bout between Chris Eubank Jr and Conor Benn. 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.”
Adding another layer of intrigue to the series of events, Benn reportedly passed all pre-fight drug tests from UK Anti-Doping and, as such, has not been placed under any official sanctioning following the VADA findings.
Ironically, back in 2019, Benn was one of several figures to speak out forcefully against boxer Jarrell Miller, whose failed drug test in the lead up to a planned bout against heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua forced that fight’s cancellation.
“I can’t believe it,” Benn said of Miller’s failed drug test at the time. “Biggest night of your life, biggest fight of your career, and you get tested positive for a banned substance. It baffles me.
“My nutritionist has a go at me for taking vitamin C tablets if they haven’t been tested,” Benn continued. “So the team he’s got around him should say, ‘Listen, check all your substances.’ You’re earning a few good quid here and why put that to risk?”