The middleweight boxing bout between British fighters Chris Eubank Jr. and Conor Benn due to take place tomorrow (October 8) has been postponed after Benn tested positive for a banned substance – but there were attempts to see the fight go ahead.
On Wednesday (October 5), the fight’s promoters Matchroom (Benn) and Wasserman Boxing (Eubank Jr.) released a joint statement that read: “We have been made aware that a random anti-doping test for Conor Benn conducted by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA) returned an adverse analytical finding for trace amounts of a fertility drug.
“The B sample has yet to be tested, meaning that no rule violation has been confirmed. Indeed, Mr. Benn has not been charged with any rule violation, he is not suspended, and he remains free to fight.
“Mr. Benn has since passed a doping control test conducted by the UK Anti-Doping Agency (UKAD), the anti-doping authority to which the British Board of Boxing Control has delegated its doping control testing for the bout. Mr. Benn has passed all doping control tests conducted by UKAD.
“Both fighters have taken medical and legal advice, are aware of all relevant information, and wish to proceed with the bout this Saturday.”
Shortly afterward, however, the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBC) national governing body for the sport released a statement indicating it had determined that the fight be “prohibited as it is not in the interests of boxing” and that it had communicated as much to the two fighters and the promoters.
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— BBBofC (@BBBofCuk) October 5, 2022
Of the substance, Wasserman promoter Kalle Sauerland told UK commercial radio network Talksport: “It’s a non-performance enhancing drug, but it can raise testosterone.”
In January, Benn was temporarily removed from the rankings of the World Boxing Council, one of the four main sanctioning bodies for the sport, for failing to sign up to the VADA clean boxing program. He was subsequently reinstated after doing so.
The developments of this week could have had serious implications.
The BBBC was duty-bound to prohibit Eubank Jr-Benn following the positive test, but questions have been raised about how long it new about the test result and why it wasn’t made public for over a month.
Despite that, the suggestions the Benn, Eubank, and their promoters that the fight could go ahead based on technicalities to do with the VADA result and the result of the UKAD tests risked serious damage to the integrity of boxing in the UK.
Only late yesterday (October 6) afternoon was the announcement made that the fight had been postponed.
Another joint statement from Matchroom and Wasserman read: “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.”
Summing up the situation, ex-boxer Carl Froch was quoted by British public service broadcaster the BBC as saying: “They’re businessmen so they wanted it to happen. But the safety of the fighters is paramount in boxing, 99% of people will agree it's the right decision.”
Image: Christopher Lee/Getty Images