Eddie Hearn recognized the British Boxing Board of Control’s position on whether to allow Chris Eubank Jr. and Conor Benn to fight Saturday night in London.
Benn’s promoter simply doesn’t think the government agency that regulates boxing in the United Kingdom has any justification for stopping them from moving forward with their heavily hyped showdown. Hearn pointed out to DAZN’s Darren Barker and Chris Lloyd during a media workout Wednesday that Benn’s positive test for clomiphene wasn’t administered by UK Anti-Doping, the company that the BBBofC uses to police performance-enhancing drug use.
Benn failed a Voluntary Anti-Doping Association test for which he gave a sample in August, at least five weeks before he is still scheduled to box Eubank. Benn and Eubank both agreed to additional VADA testing, commonly considered the most stringent PED program in boxing, as part of their contracts.
Hearn’s contention is that the BBBofC cannot suspend Benn because it doesn’t recognize independent VADA testing as it relates to licensing Benn and therefore Eubank-Benn should take place as planned at a sold-out O2 Arena.
“Look, firstly,” Hearn said, “there is currently no reason – in terms of suspension or, you know, violations – that the fight should not take place. So, the Board actually don’t – you remember a situation with Billy Joe Saunders, where he actually tested positive with VADA ahead of the [Demetrius] Andrade fight [four years ago]. The Board did not suspend him because they don’t recognize VADA, but Massachusetts did [deny Saunders’ license application]. So, there’s a complicated process to go through. Eubank-Benn is the fight, ultimately. If that fight doesn’t take place nor will the show. But, you know, we have to see where we go from here, because if the Board aren’t suspending Conor Benn – and they won’t suspended Conor Benn, they don’t have the right to under their jurisdiction under with the tests that he’s been passing with UKAD – then, if they’re not allowing the fight, when do they allow the fight?
“You know, are we saying there’s a delay while you wanna have a hearing and we postpone the fight for two weeks, three weeks, four weeks? You’re not gonna suspend Conor Benn, so at some point, the fight is going to take place. So, you know, it’s fresh at the moment. And I’m happy to come on here and give everyone as much news as I can. But at the same time, there’s a process that will be undertook.”
Hearn’s company, Matchroom Boxing, has a lot at stake financially because it is the primary promoter of the Eubank-Benn card. DAZN is set to stream it as a pay-per-view event in the United Kingdom and Ireland (£19.99) and as part of annual and monthly subscription packages in the United States and most other countries and territories.
While hopeful that their grudge match moves forward Saturday night, Hearn acknowledged the tenuous nature of their predicament for everyone involved, particularly so close to the scheduled date of the event. Eubank and Benn attended the media workout Wednesday, however, as if they’ll still fight Saturday night.
“I mean, look, it’s obviously a very difficult situation for [Benn],” Hearn said. “Obviously, we’ve seen previously people make their mind up before any news or information or evidence comes out. So, it’s a very difficult time for [Benn]. He’ll be in here, you know, going through the process. And it’s a difficult time for everyone. Chris Eubank. You know, I don’t think anyone’s gonna feel sorry for us, but we put a lot of work into this show.
“And we’ll see what happens from here. But, you know, like I said, from Eubank’s side, from Conor Benn’s side, they feel the fight should progress. He’s not suspended by the British Boxing Board of Control. But ultimately, they’re the governing body. And we will have to have conversations with them through the lawyers to see where this process ends.”
Hearn acknowledged that “maybe” Benn (21-0, 14 KOs) will make a concession on their contract weight of 157 pounds and the attached rehydration clause because Eubank (32-2, 23 KOs) has agreed to box an opponent who has tested positive for something on VADA’s list of banned substances. As it stands, Eubank is obligated to weigh in at what would be a career-low 157 pounds or less Friday afternoon in London.
“I don’t think really that’s the talking point at the moment,” Hearn said in reference to increasing their contracted catch weight. “The talking point is to get everybody comfortable with their position. You know, this is not Wasserman [Boxing, Eubank’s promoter] and Eubank just went, ‘Yeah, we’ll just crack on.’ This is they’ve examined the adverse findings. They’ve had medical advice from experts regarding these trace findings and are prepared, on the basis of – you know, [Wasserman’s] Kalle [Sauerland] will talk further on that finding – to proceed with the bout. So, everybody’s comfortable with what they’ve seen from that side. So obviously, the Board, as of now, aren’t comfortable with that. And we respect that, and we’ll go through the process with them to ultimately see where that lands.”
The polarizing Hearn is sure to draw criticism if Eubank, 33, and Benn, 26, renew their family rivalry Saturday night, but he emphasized Wednesday that Benn passed numerous PED tests overseen by UKAD.
“Both guys signed up to a multitude of testing for this fight,” Hearn said. “The UKAD testing, which is obviously the testing agency that the British Boxing Board of Control use and are governed by, have all been clear and negative. And there was an adverse finding on a VADA test previously. So, there’s not been an official doping violation. There’s a process that has to be gone through. Conor Benn is not suspended by the British Boxing Board of Control. Ultimately, he can’t be [suspended] because he’s passed all the tests from UKAD.
“But clearly the British Boxing Board of Control will take a position on it. We’ll deal with the lawyers. Both camps have been made aware, of course, previous to the [Daily Mail] article coming out [Wednesday] about the situation. And both camps prepared to progress with the fight. But ultimately, the conversations have to be had with the lawyers and the teams and the British Boxing Board of Control.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.