Featured image: Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing.
The British Boxing Board of Control (BBBofC) have rejected an application for Conor Benn to face Chris Eubank Jr in London next year, General Secretary Robert Smith has told talkSPORT.
Both the BBBofC and UKAD are in the process of appealing a National Anti-Doping Panel decision which ruled in favour of Benn in relation to two failed drug tests from last year.
Reports emerged in recent days suggesting the pair were set to face-off in London on February 3rd but Smith says the fight will not be sanctioned by the BBBofC until the full appeal process has played out.
Smith said: “The Board feel any athlete, not just a boxer, but any athlete who has failed a drug test needs to go through an investigation with the proper authorities, and that hasn’t happened.
“The Boxing Board and UKAD have been pushing for that to happen right at the beginning of this, and unfortunately it’s been delayed, not through the BBBofC and UKAD, but through other parties.
“In regard to Mr Benn boxing in this country, we have had an application [for him to fight but] that has been refused.”
Benn popped twice for clomiphene in 2022
Benn and Eubank Jr were initially set to meet in October last year before the fight was cancelled just days before after news broke of Benn returning trace amounts of clomiphene in a Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA) test on October 5th – three days before fight night.
It was later confirmed that he had in fact returned ‘adverse analytical findings’ in two separate VADA tests – both for the banned substance clomiphene – taken in July and September.
The BBBofC, with whom both Benn and Eubank Jr were licensed with at the time, released a statement on the day prohibiting the bout, saying that allowing the fight to take place would ‘not be in the interests of boxing’.
Benn’s team however contended that the BBBofC and UKAD had no jurisdiction over the tests as they were carried out by VADA – a testing agency fighters voluntarily sign up for and which is described as the ‘gold standard’ testing system in the sport.
The first test – conducted on July 25th – took place under the World Boxing Council (WBC) ‘Clean Boxing Programme’ which requires fighters to submit to year-round, 24/7 testing in order to be ranked by the sanctioning body.
The WBC launched their own investigation and reinstated Benn into their rankings in February after ruling his ‘overconsumption of eggs provided reasonable explanation for the adverse analytical findings’.
Benn himself refutes this claim however, claiming to have never mentioned eggs as a possible reason in a 270-page dossier he submitted to the WBC two months before and instead says significant ‘flaws and irregularities’ in the VADA testing process were to blame.
National panel ruled in favour of Benn in July
Benn finally confirmed he was in contact with the BBBofC and UKAD in April, and the case was referred to an independent National Anti-Doping Panel (NADP).
The Panel ruled in favour of Benn in July and led to his provisional suspension, which had been in place since April, being lifted by UKAD.
Both UKAD and the BBBofC immediately confirmed their intention to appeal the decision – a process which is still playing out.
Smith said: “Conor could be innocent, there could be a reason why [he failed the two tests], we don’t know. He also could be guilty. We haven’t got those facts, and we want to get the facts to deal with it.”
Benn returned to the ring in September
After a 17-month hiatus, Benn returned to the ring with a ten-round unanimous decision victory over Rodolfo Orozco in September at super-welterweight.
The fight took place on a Matchroom Boxing show in Orlando, Florida and was the 27-year-old’s first fight at 154lbs after previously campaigning at welterweight.
The first fight with Eubank Jr was set to take place at a 157lb catchweight but the pair are now reported to meet at the 160lb middleweight championship limit should they face-off in the near future.
Eubank Jr’s last fight also took place in September when he avenged his January defeat to Liam Smith.
The Brightonian was brutally stopped inside four rounds at the beginning of the year but dropped and eventually halted Liverpool’s Smith after ten rounds in Manchester.