Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Donald McRae

Eubank Jr and Smith urge Conor Benn to give up on plans to fight outside UK

Liam Smith and Chris Eubank Jr  stand side by side while promoting their fight.
Liam Smith and Chris Eubank Jr both want Conor Benn to accept any punishment from UK Anti-Doping. Photograph: Peter Cziborra/Action Images/Reuters

Chris Eubank Jr and Liam Smith have urged Conor Benn to abandon his plans to resume his career outside Britain and to accept any punishment that may be handed down to him by UK Anti-Doping. The two boxers, who will meet in a rematch in Manchester in June, broke away from publicising their own fight to address the ongoing Benn controversy.

Eubank, who had been due to meet Benn in a catchweight contest last October only for his rival to record two positive test results for clomifene, was emphatic. Benn needs to “clear his name” and regain his British Boxing Board of Control licence before Eubank would consider fighting him. Smith responded as bluntly when asked if Benn, who has been provisionally suspended and charged by Ukad, should accept any ban that may follow a full investigation into his case.

“Yes,” Smith said, “because if you’re innocent it shouldn’t take this long to prove you’re innocent. [Benn] went silent for two or three months, because you’re trying to find the best sports lawyers and nutritionists to look at a loophole round how it got in his system. I feel like they’re still doing that now.”

Benn has always strongly protested his innocence and claims that a 270-page report produced by his team exonerates him. But that report has not been widely shared and Benn has spoken often of his desire to resurrect his fight against Eubank in the Middle East. When Eubank was asked what Benn needed to do for them to finally meet in the ring he said: “It’s clear as day. Get his British boxing licence back so that he can fight in the UK, so that we can do it where the fight makes the most sense, where it’s supposed to happen. Not in the Middle East or when there’re all these things going on about [the unresolved controversy]. He has to clear his name.”

Eubank admitted that “I entertained it” when asked if he had considered fighting Benn in the Middle East. “I thought about it, but this is the fight [against Smith] which made the most sense for me. I have to avenge the loss.”

Conor Benn.
Conor Benn has strongly protested his innocence since testing positive for clomifene. Photograph: Zac Goodwin/PA

Smith stopped Eubank in emphatic style in January. The rematch clause was triggered but Benn and his promoter, Eddie Hearn, were keen to lure Eubank into a lucrative contest, despite scathing criticism, in Abu Dhabi. “We don’t need to talk about how far apart we were in talks,” Eubank said, “but when I had to weigh up my options I decided against it.”

Eubank conceded that the threat from the British Board that he could lose his licence if he fought Benn under the current circumstances helped make up his mind. “Of course. You have to take everything into consideration.”

Smith highlighted the significance of that recent statement from the board which warned it could sanction any British boxing licence holder who promotes or participates in an event featuring Benn. “I knew in the background they [Eubank and his team] were trying their best to make the Conor Benn fight,” Smith said. “I think the final straw to them came only two weeks ago when the board stood firm. The post they put out was basically aimed at Eubank. If Eubank goes ahead and fights Conor Benn he’ll be dealt with. And fair play to Chris. I think he’s probably thought in the long run: ‘Where do I go after Conor Benn if I burn my bridges with the British Boxing Board?’”

Smith also suggested that Eubank had been “terrified” in their first fight. “He was closing his eyes,” Smith said. “He looked scared.”

Eubank responded in laconic fashion when told about Smith’s comments. “I absolutely didn’t want to get hit,” he said. “I’m a very good-looking man. I would like to keep these good looks.”

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.