Stepping up two weight divisions this weekend does not mean that Conor Benn’s welterweight ambitions are behind him, according to promoter Eddie Hearn. 

At the moment, Benn is still scheduled to fight Chris Eubank Jr at the O2 Arena, London, on Saturday, moving up to 157 pounds for the fight. 

On Wednesday, it was revealed that Benn had tested positive for traces of a banned substance back in August. While the British Boxing Board of Control have prohibited the bout from taking place - at the moment the fight is still going forward as planned - as promoter Eddie Hearn and his legal team are working around the clock to keep the event intact. 

Benn is ranked in the top five by all four governing bodies and, while Hearn believes his boxer is not ready yet for either Errol Spence or Terence Crawford, the plan will be to fight a big name at welterweight if Benn is successful with Eubank in a fight that has captured the imagination in the UK. 

“It was just too big to ignore,” Hearn said. “We believe we can win the fight, that’s the main reason we took it, but it also doesn’t affect his trajectory at 147. 

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime fight and opportunity which will only present itself once. And I think it’s an easier fight than the fights we talked about at 147. 

“It’s an easier fight than Keith Thurman, it’s an easier fight than Jaron Ennis, and Crawford and Spence. Even when you talk about Danny Garcia, these are elite world championship fighters.” 

Hearn made an offer to Adrien Broner of $2.5 million to face Benn, but even with that kind of money on offer, it has been a struggle to attract opponents for the big-punching Benn. 

And while the division is largely on hold while the world waits to see if a Spence-Crawford fight happens, Hearn believes opportunities will present themselves. 

“You’ve got Errol Spence and Terence Crawford, the two champions, two of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world,” Hearn said. “I still feel Conor said two or three fights away from being involved in a fight like that. 

“There are still mid-level fighters like Keith Thurman and Danny Garcia at 147 before you get to those guys, but sooner or later, you’re going to have to fight the best. You can’t keep knocking people out and not take the big step up. 

“This is quite a nice step up and because of the challenge, I put it alongside the challenge of Mikey Garcia, Danny Garcia, those kinds of fights.” 

Hearn believes that if Benn and Eubank had been the same weight, his man would be a big favorite. 

“Eubank is not an elite world championship fighter, no way,” Hearn said.  

“The disadvantage is the weight and that’s what makes this interesting. On a level playing field, Conor is a big favorite in this fight. But the weight just makes it 50-50 in my opinion.” 

Indeed, Hearn believes that Eubank, 33, is not the fighter he was a few years ago and believes his ambition is not what it once was. 

“Eubank wasn’t able to perform at world level and go on and become a world champion,” Hearn said. “He can still fight, but he’s not the fighter he was. He’s nowhere near as hungry as he was. He was a very resilient fighter early on, a fantastic chin. I don’t think he wants it anyway near as much now. I think he’s got a nice life, a nice few quid, he’s playing poker. 

“He just wants to make money now, but when you just want to make money, and you have to go to the trenches, I’m not so sure. When he fought George Groves, he took a lot of big shots and showed a lot of arsehole that night. He’s not the same fighter now.” 

Ron Lewis is a senior writer for BoxingScene. He was Boxing Correspondent for The Times, where he worked from 2001-2019 - covering four Olympic Games and numerous world title fights across the globe. He has written about boxing for a wide variety of publications worldwide since the 1980s.