One of the most farcical weeks in British boxing has brought the news fight fans desperately didn’t want to hear: the colossal catchweight bout between Conor Benn and Chris Eubank Jr is officially off.
The pair had been scheduled to lock horns tomorrow night in a huge domestic clash at 157lb, however it has been cancelled after Benn tested positive for a banned substance, clomifene, back in August.
Benn and his team have protested their innocence, while Eubank – after consulting with medical professionals – insisted he wanted to go ahead regardless.
But the British Boxing Board of Control wouldn’t allow it, and the ever-bizarre Eddie Hearn’s hopes of shifting the fight out of their jurisdiction have come to nothing.
It calls time on a week of frustration for fight fans, and sees both men miss out on a massive payday at the O2 in London. Here’s a timeline of how all the mayhem unfolded:
Wednesday October 5th 2022
Doubts about the fight going ahead were revealed for the first time, with breaking news stories confirming that Benn had delivered an ‘adverse analytical finding’ for clomifene, a drug often prescribed to help with male fertility.
That test was conducted by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA), but matters were confused when Benn subsequently passed a test conducted by the UK Anti-Doping Agency, who the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBofC) typically refer such matters to.
It was on those grounds that the bout wasn’t immediately called off, with both Benn and Eubank Jr said to be keen to carry on as planned in a fight that many felt would emulate the battles between their respective fathers, Nigel and Chris Sr, back in the 1990s.
“We both want the fight to go ahead, we’ve both taken medical and legal advice and we both want the fight to happen for the fans,” Benn declared.
However, later on Wednesday it was confirmed by the BBBofC that the fight was effectively postponed, as they declared it was ‘prohibited as it is not in the interests of boxing.’
Thursday October 6th 2022
Rumours began to circulate that the fight promoters, Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing and Kalle Sauerland, were seeking alternative ways of getting the contest on.
Some had pointed to the Oscar Valdez vs Robson Conceicao bout in 2021, which went ahead despite Valdez failing a VADA-conducted test. The much-maligned brawl between David Haye and Derek Chisora, originally prohibited by the BBBofC, went ahead after the Luxembroug Boxing Board stepped in and gave it the green light.
Hearn would insist he would not use a ‘foreign commission or alternative governing body’ to get the fight on, and pondered that he hoped a resolution would be found.
However, later in the afternoon, Matchroom confirmed the fight was off, with both fighters issuing apologies via Twitter.
Conor got caught using an illegal substance so the fight is off. Can’t believe it. I really apologise to the fans & everyone that bought tickets, traveled & booked hotels, this should not of happened. He has escaped his schooling… for now.
— Chris Eubank Jr (@ChrisEubankJr) October 6, 2022
— Conor Nigel Benn (@ConorNigel) October 6, 2022
Rather than taking the decision with good grace, Hearn claimed he would be seeking legal action against the BBBofC, after declaring the authority’s actions ‘procedurally flawed and without due process.’
Friday October 7th 2022
Although he initially said he wouldn’t, The Sun has reported that Hearn did in fact try to get the fight moved to Luxembourg or Malta in a last-ditch attempt to get it over the line.
Others have speculated that the fight will go ahead in the next few weeks, with Saudi Arabia or Dubai touted as potential venues.
Either way, the curtain has fallen on one of the most embarrassing big fight build-ups in quite some time.