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The Greed, The Bad and The Ugly

Despite the dark curtain that is engulfing the supposed ‘generational’ battle between Chris Eubank Jr and Conor Benn, there are still those trying to make what could be one of the most controversial boxing matches of all time happen.

Let it be made clear, before I continue any further with this article, that I have been against this fight since it was announced back in August. My initial dislike stemmed from the weight that each fighter would have to get to for the bout to occur, and the potential health repercussions that could follow. But it appears that another ugly reason to cancel this fight has arisen, and as I write this, attempts to be justified by servants of greed.

When I first started watching and following boxing in the early 2010s, whenever people would talk about the great fights and fighters to come out of Britain, Chris Eubank and Nigel Benn were almost always the first names on anyone’s lips. The pair’s two fights in 1990 (Eubank winning by ninth round tko) and 1993 (a highly disputed majority draw) are cloaked in diamonds whenever spoken about by boxing aficionados. It was of great excitement to me when I discovered that the pair had two sons, both boxers, who would be able to revisit the rivalry of their fathers. However, my naïve dreams would be crushed upon realising their difference in size. Benn, a natural welterweight (147 lbs) and Eubank Jr, a natural middleweight (160 lbs), seemed too far apart in weight to ever meet, what a shame…

Enter the supervillain, donning a ragged cape made of £50 notes, Greed.

Against all odds the fight was made and billed for October 8th, no titles, no legitimate weight class, just family pride (and a smidge of money) to fight for. Both Benn and Eubank agreed back in August to meet at a catch weight of 157lbs, which would see Benn increase his weight by 10lbs, nearly two weight divisions and see Eubank drop around 4lbs. While 4lbs may not sound like a lot, in boxing terms, particularly in the higher weight divisions, it can take a huge toll on the fighter. Especially considering Eubank is a naturally large middleweight, having campaigned at Super middleweight (168lbs). The danger of fighters draining themselves in order to make weight is well known in boxing and even before the abhorrent finding in Benn’s B-sample, could’ve posed a threat to Eubank Jr’s health. Weight classes exist in boxing for a reason and for both fighters to switch weight classes in order to fight is strange and is only occurring in pursuit of monetary gain.

In the initial article I planned to write, my intention was to draw from the past experiences of fighters who moved up in weight and paid the price for their ambition. The two obvious candidates are Kell Brook and Amir Khan, who both moved up from welterweight to middleweight. But to compare Brook and Khan to Benn is an insult to two of the finest fighters this country has ever produced. In the following case study, I hope to highlight the different reasonings behind moving up in weight and the potential detriments this can have to one’s career.

Both Brook and Khan moved up in weight in pursuit of greatness, both challenging the two best middleweights in the world for their respective titles, with Brook fighting Gennady Golovkin and Khan challenging Canelo Alvarez. Both Khan and Brook suffered stoppage defeats at the hands of these middleweight monsters, with Brook receiving a broken eye socket for his troubles and Khan finding himself on the receiving end of one of the most devastating knockouts ever seen in boxing. When it came time for both men to return to their original weight classes, the cutting of weight had drained them and they were never as good as they had been prior to the move up. Brook’s broken eye socket became a feature that followed him for the rest of his career and in his first fight back at welterweight he lost his IBF title to Errol Spence Jr. My overarching point is that moving up so drastically in weight can be extremely detrimental to a career in boxing, especially if the plan is to drop back down in weight, but at least in Khan’s and Brook’s case it was for a chance to have their names inscribed into the etchings of boxing legend. Conor Benn’s motivations are something completely different.

While it must be made clear that I am far from against boxers taking a fight away from a World title in order to achieve a large pay cheque, there is a time and a place. Benn was beginning to solidify himself as a credible welterweight and had recently broken into the top 10 of the ring magazine rankings for the division. For me it was a crying shame that he decided to take a potentially career ending pay cheque to move up nearly two weight divisions for no other reason than greed.

But alas, it seems that I needn’t have put so much stress on poor Conor Benn and potential detriments to his career that this fight posed. No, it turns out that this fight has been shrouded in a far darker cloud and Benn had destroyed his career before he even stepped foot in the ring. The ‘S word’ is something that whenever mentioned in conjunction with boxing immediately raises alarm bells. It is one of the great tragedies of sport in general that the ‘S word’ can be so ever-present, with athletics and cycling having a particular issue. But when it occurs in a sport where the aim is to hurt your opponent it becomes another level of unacceptable.

On October 5th, three days before their fight, Conor Benn tested positive for a substance banned by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA), a female fertility drug Clomifene, known for increasing male testosterone and muscle development. After this finding the British Boxing Board of Control refused to sanction the fight and it appeared that this ‘generational battle’ would not occur. Done and dusted right? Much like the Anthony Joshua and Jarrell Miller fight that was cancelled back in 2019 after Miller tested positive for banned substances? Well, you’d like to think so.

Despite the rulings of the BBBofC, the promoter of this fight (generous considering it is appearing more of a circus show) Eddie Hearn, seems convinced that the fight will go ahead. If this fight does indeed go ahead then it will be the biggest disgrace in the history of boxing. Boxing as a sport is supposed to pride itself on the values of mano a mano nature. Two men fighting against one another, employing not only strength, but tactics and skill to better their opponent. There is no room for drugs cheats in a sport that is already dangerous enough and there should be a zero-tolerance attitude to anybody found guilty of using banned substances.

Both Eubank Sr and Benn Sr know all too well the dangers of this sport, both having hospitalised and subsequently ended the careers of opponents. Eubank Sr knocked out Michael Watson in the twelfth round of their rematch, which left Watson in a forty-day coma requiring urgent surgery to remove a blood clot in his brain, while Benn Sr brutally knocked out Gerald McClellan also leaving his opponent with a blood clot on the brain. The potential danger that this fight could pose to an already drained Eubank Jr should prevent the occurrence of this fight from even being debated. Chris Eubank Sr has already done his part stating before these findings ever came to light that this fight shouldn’t occur due to concerns over the fighter’s weights. It is now Nigel Benn’s turn to speak up and discourage the occurrence of this farce.

In a fight that was supposed to represent revenge for his father’s defeat against Eubank, Conor Benn seems to have tarnished the Benn family name for the rest of eternity. The fact that this fight could still occur is quite honestly astonishing and Eddie Hearn should hang his head in shame for even attempting it, especially after previous comments made about fighters who tested positive for banned substances.

It’s ironic. All the talk about youtubers ruining boxing and making a mockery of the sport, when in reality it’s a spoilt, cheating, entitled child trying to be handed millions off the back of his father’s brilliance. Benn may be carrying his father’s name in another way as he becomes the Dark Destroyer of his family’s legacy.


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