Promoter Eddie Hearn is apparently certain that the high-profile fight between Chris Eubank Jr. and Conor Benn will take place on British soil.
The Matchroom Boxing head has been mostly vague regarding the question of where the controversial bout will take place, suggesting that it could even take place in the Middle East, where lucrative fights are frequently being staged these days.
But now Hearn appears certain that the fight will take place in England, with Dec. 23 being the target date. Hearn told an outlet earlier this week, IFL TV, that his team is looking to stage the fight either at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London or in a stadium in Cardiff, Wales, most likely Principality Stadium. Both venues can accommodate well over 50,000 spectators.
Brighton’s Eubank, a career middleweight, and Ilford’s Benn, a welterweight, were scheduled to fight each other last year in a 157-poun catchweight bout. But that match-up was scuttled at the 11th hour after it was revealed that Benn had tested positive for a banned performance-enhancing substance. It was subsequently revealed that Benn had tested positive for the same banned substance—clomifene—in a separate test.
The two failed drug tests have been the source of much vexation and controversy in British boxing, with Benn and Co. frequently at odds with the regulatory bodies in the country, including the British Boxing Board of Control and United Kingdom Anti-Doping.
Hearn has made it clear he is willing to move forward with Eubank vs. Benn even though Benn is currently not sanctioned by the British board; Benn voluntarily gave it up last year.
“Absolutely I want the fight to be sanctioned by the British Boxing Board of Control,” Hearn told SecondsOut. “Legally, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t’ be. But the fight will take place in Britain. That’s a given.”
In March, Benn was placed under provisional suspension by UKAD. But Benn and his legal team fought that verdict, reportedly on a technicality, and a few months later, in July, the National Anti-Doping Panel lifted Benn’s suspension. That decision paved the way for Benn to return to the ring for the first time in nearly 18 months in September, in Orlando. However, UKAD has appealed the Panel’s decision; the Daily Mail reported that a hearing may not happen until early next year.
Hearn felt he needed to size up the venue based on the new animus between the fighters; the original fight was set to take place at London’s O2 Arena, which seats close to 20,000 spectators.
“Probably twice as big,” Hearn said of the fight. “I wish it (the cancellation of the fight last October) never happened. It was big last time. It was the fastest selling and biggest gate in the history of the O2 last time.
“Now it’s going to be at a stadium where it’s going to sell 60, 70,000 tickets. It’s the biggest fight in British boxing outside of probably Fury against AJ. Like I said, it turned into a monster for some of the wrong reasons but here we are. Now I just want to get these two in the ring.”
Sean Nam is the author of Murder on Federal Street: Tyrone Everett, the Black Mafia, and the Last Golden Age of Philadelphia Boxing.