Conor Benn wants to make sure his long-developing fight with Chris Eubank Jr. will not be bereft of a key figure.
The controversial British welterweight could be closing in on a deal to face bitter rival Eubank Jr., the longtime middleweight contender, early next year—more than one year since their scheduled fight last October was cancelled after it was revealed, at the 11th hour, that Benn had tested positive for a banned performance-enhancing drug; it was subsequently revealed a few weeks later that Benn had tested positive for the same substance earlier that summer in a separate test.
Benn’s two failed drug tests have been the bane of British pro boxing for the past year. Indeed, Benn has repeatedly professed his innocence and has repeatedly butted heads with the governing bodies in his native England, including the British Boxing Board of Control and United Kingdom Anti-Doping.
Despite the fact that Benn remains unlicensed to fight in England, Eddie Hearn, Benn’s promoter, is pushing to stage the fight on home soil. Hearn has floated Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London as a potential venue.
The original appeal of Benn vs. Eubank Jr., of course, was based on their fathers’ heated rivalry in the 1990s: Nigel Benn and Chris Eubank Sr. captivated the British sporting public with their two fights.
But while Nigel has been a prominent figure within his son’s camp, Eubank Sr. has been visibly absent in his own son’s preparations. Indeed, Eubank Sr. has openly derided the matchup, calling it a farce and fearing for the safety of Benn; the original fight was to be contested at a catchweight of 157 pounds, with the smaller Benn coming up in weight.
Eubank Sr. recently disparaged his son to the media by calling him a “money man” and has, seemingly partly out of spite, taken up an interest in the career of his nephew, Harlem Eubank, who stopped Timo Schwarzkopf in 11 rounds last Saturday in Brighton.
Benn wants the bad blood to be swept away.
“Of course I want Sr. there in Jr.’s corner,” Benn told iFL TV. “Whatever that is it needs to be sorted out. Whatever that is. Listen, when everything is all gone, when everything is said and done, when there’s no boxing, there’s no career, who’s gonna be in my career? My dad. That’s all that matters, whatever it is.
“I know Sr.’s gone through what he’s gone through. This has all come out as a surprise for everyone. Came out of nowhere. So I don’t blame him for doing what he’s doing. But you can’t be taking food out of your other son’s mouth. That’s wrong. Or trying to, or pushing that agenda.”
Benn made it clear he does not find any of Eubank Sr.’s jibes toward his son as amusing.
“You can’t say that about your son, man,” Benn said when asked about Eubank Sr.’s comments questioning his son’s durability. “You can’t say that about your son, c’mon. Irrelevant of how it goes, you say you’re worrying for you son’s health at 157, it’s only three pounds, then you’re worried about your son at 160, that I’m a dangerous man, according to him, and he wants to stick me in with his nephew—it’s just mad.
“I just hoped that it gets sorted out. I hope Eubank Sr. is there. This fight is happening because of Eubank Sr. This fight is happening because of Nigel Benn. How are you not there? You’re not there. Your nephew ain’t the same.”
Sean Nam is the author of Murder on Federal Street: Tyrone Everett, the Black Mafia, and the Last Golden Age of Philadelphia Boxing.