Eddie Hearn believes Conor Benn vs. Chris Eubank Jr. is no longer the 50-50 proposition he once thought it was.
This past Saturday, Eubank suffered a colossal upset at AO Arena in Manchester, getting stopped by Liam Smith in the fourth round of their middleweight bout.
It was an ironic turn of events, as Eubank was the heavy favorite. Moreover, the fight was only scheduled because Eubank’s previous commitment with Benn fell through. Eubank and Benn were scheduled to meet each other in the ring in October for a 157-pound catchweight bout that capitalized on their fathers’ celebrity, but a few days out from fight night, Benn was revealed to have tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug. Later, it was discovered that Benn had failed a separate test for the same banned substance in the summer.
Hearn, Benn’s promoter, has been on the PR warpath lately, boldly proclaiming that his client is innocent and that he will be vindicated by a hefty report that Benn’s lawyers submitted to the World Boxing Council in December. An investigation is reportedly still pending with UK Anti-Doping. Hearn has repeatedly insisted that Benn is free to fight and will return to the ring within the next six months.
Hearn still thinks a Eubank-Benn fight will generate plenty of attention and dollars, but he is not convinced it will be as competitive as he once believed it to be.
“There was a lot of people that came out afterward and said, ‘Thank God that Conor Benn and Eubank fight didn’t happen at 157 and a half because of you know,’” Hearn told iFL TV. “Conor, in my opinion, punches harder, faster, and more spiteful than Liam Smith. And we really believed that he would win that fight and he believed that he would stop Chris Eubank Jr. and you saw from Saturday that he would be a massive favorite going into that fight. So I don’t know if Eubank would want to fight someone like Conor Benn coming off that defeat.”
Eubank, however, said after Saturday’s loss that he intends to activate his rematch clause with Smith. The rematch could potentially take place in Smith’s hometown of Liverpool.
Hearn said if he promoted Eubank he would advise him to refrain from contemplating a Benn fight anytime soon.
“It’s a massive fight, and it always will be, but [Eubank] has a very difficult decision,” Hearn said. “It’s not my decision, we’ve got nothing to do with it, but if he was my fighter I would be very concerned about fighting Conor Benn next. Styles make fights and Conor is going to stand in front of him and trade and it’s going to be an absolute war and Liam’s a little bit cuter—I don’t know. Still a big fight, but I wouldn’t be Team Eubank right now thinking I want to get in the ring with Conor Benn.”