Eddie Hearn believes precedent will prevail in the case of his embattled charge, Conor Benn.
The head of Matchroom Boxing has been busy trying to put out the conflagration caused by the revelation, from last week, that Benn had tested positive for a banned performance enhancing drug—clomifene, a fertility drug that enhances testosterone levels when used by men—just four days out from his highly anticipated 157-pound catchweight fight with Chris Eubank Jr.
The test results, produced by the testing agency VADA, were disclosed in a report by the Daily Mail, which eventually led to the 11th hour cancellation of Eubank-Benn, a fight that had drawn keen interest from fans because the fighters’ fathers produced Britain’s most heated boxing rivalry in the 1990s.
Because all the relevant parties were made aware of the test results two week prior to the Daily Mail’s story, there is an impression that Hearn, Eubank’s promoter Kalle Sauerland, and the British Boxing Board of Control, would have staged the event had the news leak not occurred. Hearn and Sauerland, moreover, have received significant blowback for what appeared to be their serious intention to override the Board’s position in court and carry on with the fight.
In a recent interview, Hearn continually maintained that the public will eventually be privy to more information concerning Benn’s adverse test results, information, Hearn believes, that will exonerate his 26-year-old client. Hearn also pointed to an example in the past that he believes is similar to Benn’s predicament.
In 2019, British heavyweight contender Dillian Whyte, a Hearn client, found himself embroiled in controversy after this outlet revealed that Whyte had tested positive for metabolites of a banned substances prior to his fight with Oscar Rivas on July 20 in London. That December, after a lengthy investigation, United Kingdom Anti-Doping, which administered the test and is a partner of the BBBofC (unlike VADA), made the determination to remove Whyte’s charge on the basis of their findings that the banned substances found in Whyte’s urine were “low” and “not suggestive of doping.”
“I don’t like the word, ‘it was kept from people,’ Hearn said of the accusation that he sat on Benn’s drug test results in an interview on The DAZN Boxing Show. “It wasn’t kept from anyone. Ultimately, the commission which rules whether or not the fight will take place or not, was aware of the situation from the get go. There’s information about the testing, about the amount, which will come to light and which I can’t really comment on … you’re going to get information.
“We’ve been here before with Dillian Whyte. Everybody wrote him off. Everybody said his career was over, he was this, he was that. And it turned out he was completely innocent.”
Hearn said he was dismayed that Benn did not get the kind of "due process" that Whyte received.
Whyte’s positive test was not known until three days before his July 20 fight with Rivas. In order to fight, Whyte appeared before an anti-doping tribunal and made his case, which cleared him to fight Rivas.
The Daily Mail reported Tuesday that Benn is being investigated over claims that he failed a second drug test. The outlet alleges that the banned substance is also clomifene, but it is not clear when the results of the alleged second test were produced. The news follows on the heels of several reports stating that UKAD is already investigating Benn.
“What we wanted is we wanted an opportunity for Conor Benn to be heard and to get a fair hearing like Dillian Whyte got,” Hearn said. “Dillian Whyte got a hearing prior to the fight. That is why the fight took place. Conor Benn was never given the opportunity. At that point we put it into the hands of the commission and the commission decided we’re not going to sanction the fight.
“We could’ve gotten an injunction, we could’ve used another commission, these were routes we decided not to take. We respected the commission’s decisions. We don’t necessarily think that a lot of the process was right. And I don’t think Conor Benn was allowed due process in this instance.”
Hearn is hopeful that Benn’s detractors, in due time, will be eating crow after all the facts and information have been properly presented.
“When Dillian Whyte failed that test, or had an adverse finding, he was ruined by media outlets, by fans, by everybody,” Hearn continued. “I knew the information around the testing and I knew the facts and I believed in his innocence. It went to a full hearing and ultimately he was cleared of any wrongdoing.
"No one apologized by the way, not to me but to Dillian Whyte. The ones that came out and said he was a cheat. No one went back and [said] I’m sorry about that. So we’re in the same situation here. Now maybe the truth comes out and he doesn’t clear his name.
“If it comes to light and I’m wrong, I’ll take that on the chin as well. But you don’t know all the information.”