Eddie Hearn is adamant that Conor Benn’s next fight will be in a matter of a few months.
The embattled welterweight returned to the ring for the first time in 18 months—and since he tested positive twice for a banned performance-enhancing drug—last weekend to pick up a decision over journeyman Rodolfo Orozco at Caribe Royal in Orlando, Florida.
Benn’s appearance on the card was widely criticized by fans and observers as Benn has yet to be formally exonerated by the British Boxing Board of Control. Benn’s provisional suspension by United Kingdom Anti-Doping was lifted earlier this summer by a National Panel but UKAD filed an appeal against that verdict.
Despite his murky status, Benn has already made it clear he intends to fight again by the end of the year, in December, possibly against middleweight Chris Eubank Jr. The two were originally supposed to fight last year but their high-profile catchweight showdown was cancelled after the revelation of one of Benn’s two positive tests.
Eubank himself is coming off a stoppage win over Liam Smith earlier this month to avenge his loss to Smith in January.
In a recent interview, Hearn said while he is prioritizing Eubank as Benn’s next opponent for December, he also mentioned there are “three or four” other opponents that could serve as a backup for Benn in the event the fight with Eubank fails to materialize.
Hearn also expressed his approval for Benn’s apparent desire to face the winner of the upcoming welterweight bout between Yordenis Ugas and Mario Barrios this Saturday on the undercard of the Canelo Alvarez vs. Jermell Charlo undisputed 168-pound championship at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. But that option seems unlikely since both Ugas and Barrios are backed by Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions, a rival outfit of Hearn’s Matchroom.
“I can’t make it clearer: We want to fight Chris Eubank Jr,” Hearn told Boxing Social. “But we’re in negotiations already for three or four other fights for Conor Benn. We can’t just rely on the Eubank fight getting made. And one of those fights he wants is the winner of Ugas-Barrios. He sparred Ugas before. He has called out Barrios. It’s a great fight. Obviously for him that’s down at 147, which is his preferred weight.
“He’ll be at 154 or 160 to fight Eubank, that’s not a problem. But the negotiations continue for a number of fights outside of Chris Eubank but obviously that remains the one we’d love to make.”
“If Eubank-Benn doesn’t get made, we’re all stupid,” Hearn continued. “It’s an absolute blockbuster. Massive fight for both, huge money. But if it doesn’t, we need options for December. He’s going to fight in December, UK, America, Middle East, wherever it is, and if it’s not Eubank, we got to make sure we have a big fight for him.
Hearn also suggested that retired welterweight Kell Brook is still an option for Benn, but he was less confident about that matchup happening by December. Brook has hinted at a ring return and has had his fair share of confrontations with Benn, both in person and online.
“Whether Kell would be ready for December, I don’t know, but Conor Benn wants to fight Kell Brook,” Hearn said. “I see that fight 100% happening, whether that’s in December or in the spring or whenever. No problem with that fight either.”
Sean Nam is the author of Murder on Federal Street: Tyrone Everett, the Black Mafia, and the Last Golden Age of Philadelphia Boxing.