The fighter remains positive about Saturday’s fight going ahead despite sanctioning body saying it was ‘prohibited’
Conor Benn insists he is a “clean athlete” and that despite his failed drugs test this weekend’s fight against Chris Eubank Jnr will go ahead.
A day of chaos and extraordinary twists and turns began with 26-year-old Benn testing positive for Clomifene, a substance normally used to treat infertility in women but which can have beneficial effects on levels of testosterone in men.
The test is believed to have been conducted last month under the auspices of the Vada (Voluntary Anti-Doping Association) anti-doping control. The news of the positive result caught everyone by surprise – not least broadcasters DAZN and the 20,000 ticket-holders for the sold-out event.
The British Boxing Board of Control (BBBC), the sanctioning body for the bout, reacted to the development by “prohibiting” the contest from going ahead this Saturday.
However, the fact that Benn had failed a voluntary drugs test rather than a UK Anti-Doping (Ukad)-sanctioned one could yet see the fight go ahead.
Telegraph Sport understands there will be a hearing on Thursday at the BBBC to decide the outcome of the event on Saturday. The fight could yet be sanctioned by an overseas boxing board, with talks thought to have been held with authorities in Luxembourg.
Both boxers confirmed their intent to proceed with the bout, appearing at a scheduled workout slot where Benn declared his innocence.
“I’ve not committed any violations, I’ve not been suspended, so as far as I’m concerned the fight is still going ahead,” said Benn, the son of former middleweight world champion Nigel Benn, who famously fought Chris Eubank Snr twice in grudge fights in 1990 and 1993.
Benn Jnr claimed he had spoken with his opponent who was ‘understanding’ of his position.
“I’ve spoken to Chris [Eubank Jnr] personally and we both want the fight to go ahead,” Benn said. “We have both taken medical and legal advice. We want the fight to happen for the fans. I’ve signed up to every voluntary doping programme under the sun.
“All my UK tests have come back negative throughout my whole career. My team will find out as to why there has been an initial adverse finding in my test. But, as I said, as far as I’m concerned the fight is still going ahead. I’m a clean athlete and we will get to the bottom of this.
“I want to thank everyone for their continued support and we’ll see you all on Saturday. Eubank believes in me. It’s not who I am. It’s not what I’m about. I’m a professional athlete and he was understanding. We both want the fight to go ahead and as far as I’m concerned the fight is going ahead.”
However, Eubank Jnr, 33, denied there had been any contact, but confirmed he wants the contest to go ahead.
“There was no phone call. No, we haven’t spoken. Absolutely, no phone call. We haven’t spoken since this has been announced. My promoters, his promoters, they’ll sort it out. I’m ready, I’m clean, I’m 60 per cent, I’ve been tested my entire career. I’ve been tested more than I’ve ever been tested for a fight.”
Eddie Hearn, Benn’s promoter, did his best to cut through the confusion. “There’s a process that has to be gone through,” he explained. “Conor Benn is not suspended by the British Boxing Board of Control. Ultimately he can’t be, because he has passed all the Ukad tests. But clearly the British Boxing Board of Control will take a position on it. We’ll deal with the lawyers.
“From Eubank’s side and from Conor Benn’s side, they feel the fight should progress, But ultimately British Boxing Board of Control are the governing body and we will have to have conversations with them through the lawyers to see where this process ends.”
Benn and Eubank Jnr are scheduled to come face-to-face at a final press conference on Thursday before the weigh-in on Friday afternoon. The fight has been set at a catchweight of 157lb – with Benn rising almost two weight divisions, and Eubank Jnr, a middleweight, dropping down from 160lb.
It remains to be seen whether, when Saturday comes, the boxers walk to the ring.