Promoter Eddie Hearn insists there will be stringent drug testing—apparently, the most stringent in boxing history—for Conor Benn’s next fight.
As BoxingScene.com previously reported, Benn, the embattled British welterweight who failed two separate tests for the same banned performance-enhancing substance last year, is expected to return to the ring for the first time in more than a year on June 3 in Abu Dhabi.
Apparently, at the top of the list of potential opponents for Benn is eight-division world champion Manny Pacquiao, who, according to both Hearn and a handler for the Filipino legend, is eager for that match-up as well. Pacquiao came out of retirement last year to partake in an exhibition in South Korea.
Hearn, who has been criticized for the way he has responded to Benn's two failed drug tests, has been adamant that his charge will fight even without awaiting the conclusion of an investigation currently being handled by the British Boxing Board of Control and United Kingdom Anti-Doping. Benn tested twice for clomifene, a fertility drug that boosts testosterone when used by men. Benn has threatened to take legal action at the Board, which has complained that Benn and his legal team have not been transparent and forthcoming.
In a recent interview, Hearn insisted that the drug testing protocol for Benn’s next fight will be “more rigorous than any fight that has ever existed,” a remark that will undoubtedly strike some as exceedingly rich.
“One thing that makes me laugh is people who say, ‘I mean, look at Conor Benn. I mean he went from getting dropped by a guy who was seven and three to [becoming] an absolute killer,’” Hearn said on The DAZN Boxing Show. “Well, no one was saying he was a killer. Everyone was saying he was just fighting bums. So, when he stopped [South African welterweight Chris] van Heerden and knocked out [American welterweight Chris] Algieri, now everyone is making out that he was superhuman. But at the time, he was overrated. Algieri was a light welterweight who was finished. Van Heerden hadn’t boxed in a year and a half, he was shot. You’ve got pros coming out saying it was obvious [Benn was doping]—Do me a favor.
“You know, whoever Conor Benn fights next, the testing process is going to be more rigorous than any fight that has ever existed, right? Let’s see if all of a sudden, if there’s a dip in his performance, and he don’t punch as hard—absolutely ridiculous, you know. I cannot believe the relentlessness of some people, with agendas, but I’ve never seen so many people so passionate about the subject. All of a sudden.”
Hearn did not offer any specifics regarding the drug testing, such as the program that would be employed. Benn’s two positive tests were administered by the third-party, Las Vegas-based company Voluntary Anti-Doping Association, which is regarded by many as the top doping agency in the world.
Although Benn has returned to the rankings of the World Boxing Council, Benn has publicly criticized the sanctioning body for suggesting that an overconsumption of eggs was what led to his two positive tests. Benn has argued that clomifene was never in his body and has pointed the finger at laboratory procedures conducted by VADA. That has put the WBC and VADA in a thorny position.
The WBC and VADA are partners in the Clean Boxing Program, a mandatory clean-up program for all fighters who are ranked with the organization. In the past, the WBC has shown that it will drop fighters from its rankings if they fail to enroll in its program. The WBC has stated that Benn will have to work with a nutritionist and “be subject to regular anti-doping testing.” VADA has not publicly responded to Benn's statements.
If Benn's next fight will, as Hearn claims, be subject to the most exhaustive testing procedure, it is unclear how that will actually take shape.
Hearn has mentioned that there are three potential opponents for Benn, but Pacquiao seems to be the frontrunner, at least going off the buzz on social media.
“Manny Pacquiao wants the fight,” Hearn said. “It’s an expensive fight, it's a great fight. It’s a great fight. It’s an expensive fight and we’re in talks with a number of countries to stage that fight at the moment. Conor wants that.”
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