Promoter Eddie Hearn says he would be “surprised” if the long-discussed fight between Chris Eubank Jr. and Connor Benn fails to materialize by the end of the year.
A Eubank-Benn fight has seemingly been revived after Eubank avenged his loss to Liam Smith last Saturday night in Manchester, England, with a 10th-round stoppage. Eubank suffered a humiliating fourth-round technical knockout loss to Smith in their first meeting in January.
Eubank, a career middleweight, and Benn, a welterweight, were originally supposed to fight each other last October in a high-profile catchweight affair that took advantage of their fathers’ heated rivalry in the 1990s. But a few days out from the event, it was revealed that Benn had tested positive for a banned performance-enhancing drug, which, after much brouhaha, led to the outright cancellation of the card. It was subsequently revealed that Benn tested positive for the same banned substance, clomifene, in a separate test earlier in the summer.
In an interview with Boxing News on Wednesday, Hearn said he had a “great meeting” the day before with Eubank’s promoter, Kalle Sauerland of Wasserman Boxing, about staging Eubank-Benn for December.
“It’s the biggest fight for Eubank, it’s the biggest fight for Benn,” Hearn said. “Generally, that’s a good starting point. We’re talking now about a potential December fight. We’re looking at some big stadiums for that. I’d be honestly surprised if it doesn’t happen.”
Up in the air is if Benn will partake in a tune-up bout. Hearn has hinted that Benn could pop up on a fight card his company, Matchroom, is staging for Sept. 23 in Orlando, Florida, headlined by a junior welterweight bout between Richardson Hitchins and Jose Zepeda. Hearn also floated the possibility of Benn appearing on a card in London on Sept. 30, headlined by a cruiserweight title bout between titlist Jai Opetaia and Jordan Thompson.
It is unclear if Benn can even fight in his native England, as he is currently unlicensed. Benn was the recipient of some good news when an independent panel lifted his provisional suspension, which had been imposed on him by United Kingdom Anti-Doping. But both UKAD and the British Boxing Board of Control filed an appeal against that decision. Hearn claims he is discussing the matter with the BBBofC.
“Look, there’s conversations to see if Conor Benn fights at the end of September,” Hearn said. “Orlando is one option. September 30 is another. We’re in conversations with the British Boxing Board of Control about that as well. I would like for him to have a little run out. He’s been out of the ring for over a year and a half. It’s a massive fight to go into. He’s ready to fight anyone, anytime. But I think [Benn’s trainer] Tony Sims would prefer Benn to have a quick run out. Certainly, in terms of talks for that fight, they’re definitely underway. There’s work to do, but it’s the biggest fight and biggest opportunity for both of them, so fingers crossed.”
Hearn said they will need to strike a deal by the end of the month in order to properly publicize the fight for December.
Sean Nam is the author of Murder on Federal Street: Tyrone Everett, the Black Mafia, and the Last Golden Age of Philadelphia Boxing.