The promoter agrees to call off the contest ‘pending a full investigation’ into the circumstances around Benn’s positive sample
Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing and co-promoters Wasserman intend to sue the British Boxing Board of Control after the £25 million showdown between Chris Eubank and Conor Benn was postponed following Benn’s failed drugs test.
Benn, 26, tested positive for the banned substance Clomifene last month with the Voluntary Anti-Drugs Association (Vada) – but the results were only revealed three days before the fight was due to take place.
Hearn, who represents Benn, claims the boxing board’s decision to “prohibit” the event and refusal to sanction it was “procedurally flawed and without due process”.
He added that Benn’s treatment by the BBBC was incorrect as the failed test had been carried out by Vada instead of UK
Anti-Doping (Ukad), who were appointed by the board to oversee the bout’s testing.
Hearn argued that it could have gone ahead with the contest because Benn had not been suspended. The promoter denied speculation that there had been attempts to resurrect the fight via the High Court or by applying to overseas boxing commissions. But he said there would be “a full investigation” into the circumstances around Benn’s positive sample.
A joint statement from the promoters declaring the fight was off was made on Thursday afternoon. It 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. We will be making no further comment at this time and news for ticket-holder refunds will follow.”
Benn: ‘I am a clean athlete’
Benn, meanwhile, said he intended to clear his name. “I am truly gutted that we were unable to make this fight happen on Saturday and I’m sorry to everyone who has been affected by the postponement,” he said. “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.”
Hearn said it had been a “difficult 24, 48 hours” and that the “fight had captured the imagination” of the public. He promised a new date would be announced soon.
Wasserman Boxing’s Kalle Sauerland, who represents 33-year-old Eubank, said his client was “hugely disappointed” and added: “Chris was ready. He was on weight and very much looking forward to this weekend.”
Neither promoter was prepared to field questions but Eubank said: “I can’t believe it. I really apologise to the fans and everyone that bought tickets, travelled and booked hotels. This should not have happened. He has escaped his schooling… for now.”
British boxing legend Ricky Hatton told Telegraph Sport that “the right decision has been made in spite of how gutting it was for all fighters on the card” while Mike Mazzulli, president of the American Boxing Commissions, suggested that if the contest had gone ahead, “there were some state commissions here [in the United States] who were talking about revoking Matchroom’s boxing licence”.
“There is no way you can let a fight go ahead when a boxer has returned a positive drugs test… ever,” said Mazzulli.