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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Exclusive by Donald McRae

Eubank Jr likely to be denied permission for revival of Conor Benn fight

Chris Eubank Jr and Conor Benn
Chris Eubank Jr and Conor Benn were originally due to fight last October. Photograph: Steven Paston/PA

The proposed revival of Conor Benn’s bout against Chris Eubank Jr is in danger of being derailed because the British Boxing Board of Control is likely to deny Eubank Jr permission to take part in the fight even if it is located abroad.

All British boxing licence-holders need to apply to the board for permission to compete in a foreign territory under a different commission. If they refuse to do so then they run the risk of their British licence being suspended.

Benn relinquished his British licence last October and so he does not need clearance from the BBBC to box again. But his trainers and Eubank Jr do require authorisation from the board.

Asked if the BBBC is likely to grant them permission under the current circumstances – with Benn having tested positive for clomifene on two separate occasions before the original bout scheduled between the pair last year – Robert Smith, general secretary of the board, said: “If the situation remains as it is today then I would think that would be unlikely. But we have not had any applications.

“Permission might be withheld for lots of reasons. We won’t unreasonably withhold it but have to take into account the relevant factors that we know at the time of application. Each case is different.”

There has been intense speculation in recent days that Benn and Eubank Jr might fight in Abu Dhabi on 3 June. But plans to resurrect the bout, scheduled for last October, will be affected by board regulations which, as Smith says, are unequivocal.

“If any British licence holder – boxer, trainer, etc – wants to fight in a tournament abroad with another commission they have to apply to us for permission,” he said. “Once we get an application from a British licence holder to take part in an event abroad we will be able to say yes or no.”

In stressing his belief that permission is unlikely to be given to any British licence holders involved in a Benn promotion, whether he fights Eubank Jr or even an opponent from another country, Smith said: “I think common sense prevails. We have a boxer who has recorded positive dope tests who hasn’t been cleared so it would be disrespectful to the sport [to grant permission].”

Chris Eubank Jr
Eubank Jr would need to request permission from the British Boxing Board of Control to fight Benn. Photograph: Nick Potts/PA

Smith confirmed that Benn does not need BBBC approval but he reiterated that “his trainers do, and anyone else in his team who is a British Boxing Board licence holder – we need to have an application for them to go [to Abu Dhabi]”. Eubank Jr, as a BBBC licence holder, would also need to request permission from the board to fight Benn.

Tony Sims, Benn’s trainer, is among those who clearly need the board’s authorisation to work in Abu Dhabi. When asked to address the implications of Sims and Eubank Jr refusing to obtain permission from the board, Smith said: “I am not going to speculate but we can fine, we can suspend, we can withdraw. People have to have the right to explain why they have done this or that. So I am not speculating.”

But Smith confirmed that the ramifications for any British licence holder who hopes to be involved in Benn’s next fight are “quite big”.

Benn has vehemently denied intentionally taking any prohibited substance. He and his legal team produced a 270-page report which they say provides scientific proof that clears him of taking clomifene. So far only the World Boxing Council, the sanctioning body, has been granted access to the report by Benn’s team.

The WBC ruled there was no conclusive evidence that Benn intentionally ingested clomifene and reinstated him to its world rankings. Requests from the BBBC and UK Anti‑Doping to see the report have been denied by the Benn camp.

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