Conor Benn tested positive for the banned substance clomifene, it was revealed Wednesday, scrapping his scheduled boxing match with Chris Eubank Jr. in London on Saturday.
Promoters for both fighters tried to keep the event as scheduled, even after the British Boxing Board of Control, in a statement on Wednesday, said it determined Tuesday evening the event won’t take place as “it is not in the interests of boxing.”
But Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn, in a social media video on Wednesday, expressed confidence the fight would go ahead as planned, saying the matter was “with the lawyers, going backwards and forwards right now.”
A source told ESPN that Matchroom was attempting to obtain a court injunction to allow the fight to take place on Saturday. Sanctioning from different authorities was also explored, including the Luxembourg Boxing Federation and the British and Irish Boxing Authority, per sources.
The fight between the sons of British legends was a marquee event in the United Kingdom. The fighters’ fathers, Nigel Benn and Chris Eubank, twice met for world titles, in 1990 and 1993, two of the biggest British fights of the ’90s.
Benn, 26, is ESPN’s No. 8 boxer at 147 pounds, while Eubank, 33, is ranked No. 7 at 160 pounds; the bout was set for a 157-pound catchweight.
With the whole event now canceled, ESPN answers the burning questions surrounding the breaking news.
What were the attempts to keep the fight on?
Co-promoters Matchroom Boxing and Wasserman Boxing were determined to push forward with the fight, per sources. First, a court injunction was explored. Then, a path with the Luxembourg Boxing Federation was mulled.
A 2012 heavyweight fight between David Haye and Derek Chisora was blocked by the BBBofC after the pair were involved in a physical altercation during a news conference following Chisora’s loss to Vitali Klitschko in Munich earlier in 2012. The Luxembourg Boxing Federation sanctioned the London fight, and it proceeded as planned.
Another path that was being discussed by Matchroom and Wasserman: the British & Irish Boxing Authority (BIBA). BIBA sanctioned YouTuber KSI’s bouts in August. And since no British title is on the line, the BBBofC doesn’t have complete jurisdiction over the fight. — Coppinger
How does the banned substance lend a competitive advantage?
Clomifene, a fertility drug for women, can boost testosterone levels in men by “interfering with the negative feedback loop of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis,” according to the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).
Clomifene also has appeared as an undeclared agent in black-market products sold for performance-enhancing use, per USADA.
The drug can be used as a hormone and metabolic modulator. Raising testosterone levels can aid in the growth of lean muscle mass. It also can help with the production of red blood cells, which would give the fighter increased endurance as the bout wears on.
“Clomid (the brand name for clomifene) is a fertility drug that will raise testosterone by 50%,” Victor Conte, the founder of BALCO, told ESPN. Conte served time in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to distribute performance-enhancing drugs before founding SNAC, a sports nutrition company. Explaining how he believes the substance is used, Conte said “When athletes use testosterone, it suppresses their own body’s production of testosterone so they use Clomid to boost their own production again. This is the drug that steroid users commonly take after a cycle. It’s called Post Cycle Therapy (PCT).” — Coppinger
Who decides if the fight should happen after a positive test?
The BBBofC believes it has the authority to stop any fight from happening in the U.K., claiming, “The British Boxing Board of Control has the power to prohibit any contest which, in its opinion, is not in the interests of boxing.”
That could be because of a failed doping test, bad behavior by boxers or a mismatch.
Last month, the BBBofC suspended boxing in the U.K. due to the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
But Matchroom Boxing, the fight promoter, did not recognize that Benn was banned and insists “no rule violation has been confirmed.” The BBBofC, however, put out a statement noting that it had already told Matchroom and the boxers the contest was prohibited from taking place this weekend.
Matchroom said in a statement on Wednesday, “Mr. Benn has not been charged with any rule violation, he is not suspended, and he remains free to fight.”
A few hours later, the BBBofC said in its statement that the “fight is prohibited as it is not in the interests of boxing. That was communicated to the boxers and promoters involved on the morning of 5th October 2022.” — Parkinson
What’s the role of the British Boxing Board of Control?
The BBBofC oversees professional boxing in the U.K. and has done so since 1929. It appoints referees and judges for nontitle and British title fights in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It also sets out the requirements to obtain a boxing license in the U.K.
However, there have been occasions when BBBofC rulings don’t stick. Like the situation involving Haye and Chisora in 2012. Despite both fighters being banned, the pair still met in London later that year with boxing licenses sanctioned by the Luxembourg Boxing Federation.
Clomifene is banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), which regulates anti-doping globally and is a partner of UK Anti-Doping (UKAD), which governs anti-doping in the United Kingdom. UKAD follows the World Anti-Doping Code, which was first published by WADA in 2003 and works with the BBBofC to test boxers in the U.K. — Parkinson