Skip to content

Conor Benn vs Chris Eubank Jr called off due to failed drug test

Conor Benn returned "adverse analytical finding" for traces of a fertility drug on Wednesday with fight prohibited by British Boxing Board of Control; Benn and Eubank Jr wanted clash to go ahead; Benn "gutted" by postponement, focused on "clearing my name because I am a clean athlete"

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Promoter Eddie Hearn believes that Conor Benn has not been given due process after failing a drug test before his now-postponed fight against Chris Eubank Jr

Conor Benn's scheduled fight with Chris Eubank Jr at The O2 on Saturday has been called off due to a failed drug test.

It was revealed on Wednesday that an "adverse analytical finding for trace amounts of a fertility drug" had shown up in one of Benn's recent tests by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA).

The British Boxing Board of Control announced the clash was "prohibited as it is not in the interests of boxing" after promoters Matchroom Boxing and Wasserman Boxing had released a joint statement earlier in the day saying the fight would go ahead as scheduled.

The two fighters already knew about the drug test results and were keen to proceed with the bout, which follows the two clashes between their dads in the 1990s.

However, it was confirmed by Matchroom Boxing on Thursday afternoon that the fight would be postponed.

Benn 'gutted' by postponement, focused on 'clearing his name'

Writing on social media, Benn said: "I am truly gutted that we are unable to make this fight happen on Saturday and I'm sorry to everyone who has been affected by the postponement.

"I am still completely shocked and surprised by this and it has been a tough couple of days. My team and I will consider the next options including rescheduling the fight, but my immediate focus is on clearing my name because I am a clean athlete!"

Also See:

Matchroom Boxing and Wasserman Boxing said in a joint statement: "After discussions with various parties, we have taken the decision to formally postpone the bout between Chris Eubank Jr and Conor Benn.

"It is undeniable that the British Boxing Board of Control's decision to withdraw their sanctioning was procedurally flawed and without due process. That remains a legal issue between the promoters and the Board which we intend to pursue.

"However, whilst there are legal routes to facilitate the fight taking place as planned, we do not believe that it is in the fighters' interests for those to be pursued at such a late stage, or in the wider interests of the sport.

"As promoters, we take our obligations and duties very seriously, and a full investigation will now need to take place. We will be making no further comment at this time and news for ticket holder refunds will follow."

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Chief sports writer for the Daily Mirror and Sunday Mirror Andy Dunn reflects on why it would have been 'preposterous' to think the fight would go ahead

Hearn: We don't feel Benn has been given due process

Speaking afterwards at a short media briefing where no questions were taken, Hearn said: "I want to make it clear that Conor Benn is not suspended by the British Boxing Board of Control and we don't feel he has been given due process like many others in this situation before him.

"I have seen reports about going to the High Court and bringing in foreign commissions but this is just not true, we took our time and made a decision that we felt was in the best interests of the parties involved. It wasn't a decision that was easy.

"This is a sport that is very, very dear to us and while we were desperate for this fight to take place for the fans, for the undercard fighters, we made a decision we felt we had to at this time, especially considering the interest of the sport and the British public."

Kalle Sauerland and Eddie Hearn during a press conference at the Canary Riverside Plaza Hotel
Image: Kalle Sauerland (left) and Eddie Hearn (right) explained the postponement at a short media briefing on Thursday afternoon

Wasserman Boxing's Kalle Sauerland added: "I have obviously just come from Chris. He is hugely disappointed, he was ready and he was on weight. He was very much looking forward to this weekend.

"The matter was taken out of our hands, and the handling of it we feel was totally inappropriate. We now look at a case of rescheduling."

Reacting to the postponement, Eubank Jr tweeted: "Conor got caught using an illegal substance so the fight is off. Can't believe it. I really apologise to the fans & everyone that bought tickets, traveled & booked hotels, this should not of happened.

"He has escaped his schooling... for now."

Earlier in the day, Hearn used social media to rule out appointing an overseas governing body to sanction the fight but he retained hope that it could still be saved.

That prospect looked bleak, however, when the head-to-head press conference scheduled for lunchtime was pushed back twice and Benn left the hotel where he had been based with his bags packed. The undercard fighters followed soon after.

A catchweight of 157lbs was agreed for the sons to continue the family feud into a trilogy fight, meaning Benn would have to move up two weight divisions and Eubank lose three pounds.

Timeline to Benn vs Eubank Jr being postponed

- Wednesday morning - Reports emerge that Conor Benn has returned an "adverse analytical finding for trace amounts of a fertility drug" in a Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA) test

- Wednesday lunchtime - Both promoters issue joint statement in reaction to VADA result, where they say B sample has yet to be tested and no rule violation has been confirmed

- Wednesday, 2.20pm - British Boxing Board of Control (BBBoC) release statement to say Saturday's scheduled fight is "prohibited as it is not in the interests of Boxing"

- Wednesday afternoon - Both fighters attend live open workout in central London. Benn insists he's a "clean athlete" and wants fight to go ahead. Eubank Jr says he is happy to proceed with the contest, although denies claims that he had a phone conversation with his opponent.

- Thursday morning - Concerns increase over the status of the fight when head-to-head press conference in a Canary Wharf hotel, scheduled for lunchtime, are pushed back twice.

- Thursday lunchtime - Eddie Hearn tweets that he would not promote the fight with a foreign commission or alternative governing body

- Thursday, 4pm - Both promoters issue joint statement to say the fight has been postponed. Statement accuses BBBoC's decision to withdraw sanctioning as "procedurally flawed and without due process".

UKAD: Failed test 'a concern'

UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) chief executive, Jane Rumble, said: "UKAD notes the reporting of a failed VADA test by the boxer Conor Benn with concern. UKAD acts on all reports of doping and always encourages anyone with information on suspected doping activity to come forward and share that with us."

Benn insisted he is a 'clean athlete' in the build-up to the scheduled clash and had remained hopeful that the catchweight meeting would still go ahead when speaking at Wednesday's live open workout.

"I've not committed any violations, I've not been suspended," Benn said at the workout. "I've signed up to every voluntary anti-doping test under the sun, throughout my whole career I'm tested, I've always come back negative, I've never had any issues before.

"My team will find out why there has been an initial adverse finding in my test. I'm a clean athlete and we'll get to the bottom of this."

Around Sky