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, although it has been confirmed that their fight will no longer take place.
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.”
Earlier in the day, Eddie 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.
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.”