Chris Eubank Jr. is more motivated than ever to batter Conor Benn inside the ring.
But their potential fight won’t be staged under their previous terms, if Eubank has any say in the matter.
Eubank, a career middleweight, and Benn, a welterweight, were headed toward an intriguing All-British 157-pound catchweight fight last October at London’s O2 Arena, but three days out from the night of the event, it was discovered that Benn had tested positive for a banned substance, clomifene, a fertility drug. The entire card was eventually cancelled. The fight drew the attention of the British sporting public because the fighters’ fathers, Eubank Sr. and Nigel Benn, were responsible for the most heated boxing rivalry in England in the early 1990s.
There were strict stipulations in place for their October showdown, especially for Eubank. In addition to having to drop three pounds from the middleweight limit of 160 pounds, Eubank needed to abide by a rehydration clause that prevented him from gaining a certain amount of weight on the morning of the fight.
A few weeks after the initial revelation that Benn had failed a drug test, it was revealed that Benn had failed a prior test in the summer for the same substance, something that Hearn and Benn failed to disclose to both the public and Eubank and his team. Both tests were administered by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association.
Eubank, who has continually expressed interest in fighting Benn despite the failed drug tests, said he believes their snake-bitten fight is now bigger than ever, which would necessitate that it take place at a bigger stadium than the O2, which seats up to 20,000 spectators. In addition, Eubank believes Benn has lost his leverage at the negotiating table, saying that the welterweight no longer has any say in pushing for the same conditions as last time.
“Yeah, the fight is twice as big,” Eubank told The Guardian’s Donald McRae. “We would need a stadium with 60,000 instead of the O2. Does he deserve that kind of payday after being caught with illegal substances? Probably not. But it doesn’t mean I’m going to give up that payday.
“And, now, it’s personal. It’s not just about upholding the family legacy. I now actually don’t like this kid. He’s done wrong by me. So he’s lost all his privileges and bartering power. There are no weight clauses now. There are no rehydration limits. There are no 50% splits. Everything’s in my court now. I’m the only fight people want to see him in.”
Benn's promoter Eddie Hearn has stated that he believes Benn will fight this year and that he will be pushing to make the fight with Eubank again.
Eubank thinks Benn needs to be suspended from the sport, but he also realizes that the biggest payday of his career is also tied up with Benn. That, and the fact that he can enact revenge, are compelling motivations for Eubank to see Benn skate through the sport without a ban.
Benn, indeed, currently is not suspended and is awaiting a verdict from the WBC to see whether or not he can be re-installed into their welterweight rankings. Benn relinquished his license with the British Boxing Board of Control. The fighter recently uploaded a post on his Instagram account, implying that he thinks he will be vindicated.
“If you’re going to talk about setting an example to kids and the next generation of fighters then yes, absolutely I would say a ban [is required],” Benn said. “The selfish side of the coin, which is where I’m a fighter who wants to be in huge fights and get my hands on this kid for what he’s done, doesn’t want a ban.”
Eubank is scheduled to take on Liam Smith in a 12-round middleweight bout this Saturday in Manchester.