ORLANDO – Conor Benn felt good at a career-highest weight but can see a return to his natural welterweight frame in his near future.
Only one notable exception will keep the Brit from moving down and perhaps will result in another move upward—resurrected plans for an all-second-generation boxer showdown with heated rival Chris Eubank Jr. (33-3, 24KOs).
“Of course, I do,” Benn told BoxingScene.com and an intimate group of U.K. reporters when asked if he can see that fight coming back into play. “It’s a massive domestic fight. The British fans want it, I think all the world fans want it. I want to do the world a favor (and beat Eubank).
“Whatever happens, happens. I might be able to go down to 147 and capture world titles there. There’s big fights for me. All of the welterweight belts are here in America. I might be making a return to America very soon. If not, the only exception is going up to 160. Otherwise, back to 147.”
Ilford’s Benn (22-0, 14KOs) ended a forced seventeen-month layoff with a ten-round, unanimous decision victory over Mexico’s Rodolfo Orozco. Their junior middleweight bout aired live on DAZN this past Saturday from Caribe Royale Orlando (Florida), which marked Benn’s first fight since the fallout from his drug testing scandal nearly this time one year ago.
The unbeaten contender was due to face Eubank at a maximum catchweight of 157 pounds last October 8 at The O2 in London. The fight was canceled when the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBofC) withdrew sanction due to a positive drug test produced by Benn for the banned substance Clomiphene.
The past year has been spent by Benn attempting to clear his name, though the process resulted in a career-long 17-month ring absence. The period included a provisional suspension imposed by United Kingdom Anti-Doping (UKAD) and a temporary suspension issued by the Association of Boxing Commissions (ABC) in the U.S.
Both were lifted in recent months.
The UKAD suspension by force per a July 28 ruling by the National Anti-Doping Panel (NADP). The ABC suspension when Benn complied with WADA out-of-competition standard testing prior to being licensed by the Florida Athletic Commission ahead of his win over Orozco for which he weighed a career-heaviest 153.6 pounds.
Benn spent the bulk of his career at welterweight, where he clearly feels more comfortable. Hopes of a revisited grudge match versus Eubank—who campaigns at middleweight—are back in play, with December 23 the earliest targeted date for a fight that arguably carries more publicity than last year’s high-profile promotion.
Either one of those two scenarios will be the case for his next fight.
“If it doesn’t happen… listen, I’ve gone through so much in the past year and a half then if it’s not for me, it went past me” Benn said of a possible Eubank fight. “If it’s not for me, the doors are closed. That’s where I am at and how I view things."
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox