Eddie Hearn: Conor Benn itching to return to ring after suspension lifted

Promoter Eddie Hearn revealed Conor Benn is itching to “rip someone’s head off” ahead of a possible return to the ring next month after his suspension for two doping violations was lifted.

Benn’s career was thrown into turmoil last October after he twice tested positive for the banned drug clomifene in the lead-up to a bout against Chris Eubank Jr that was subsequently shelved in fight week.

While he has repeatedly stressed his innocence, Benn faced a potential two-year ban after being formally charged by UK Anti-Doping in April, but the Briton claimed last week he has now been cleared.

UKAD confirmed the provisional suspension had been lifted but included the clause that there was a 21-day window in which it could appeal the decision made by the independent National Anti-Doping Panel.

Hearn admitted the situation has taken a toll on Benn, who according to the Matchroom Boxing chief is ready to take his frustrations out on his next opponent having not fought since April last year.

Hearn said: “I would like him to box in September. He wants to go straight into a big fight but he’s been out the ring for 16 months. (Benn fighting in) September and December will be great but we’ll see.

“He’s ready to rip someone’s head off. When you talk about how low he’s been, there’s some people who are like ‘he deserves it, who cares?’ But what he’s been through would break most men.”

Hearn wants Benn to fight again under the auspices of the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBofC), having relinquished his licence and criticised the governing body’s handling of the matter.

Conor Benn, left, has not fought since April last year (Zac Goodwin/PA)

Conor Benn, left, has not fought since April last year (Zac Goodwin/PA)

Such a manoeuvre would be halted if the BBBofC decides to appeal the outcome of UKAD’s ruling on Benn, which the body that licenses fighters in Britain said on Monday it was “considering”.

Hearn said: “He has an international licence to box but I would like him to box in the UK. If they (BBBofC) appealed, that would slow down the process. A lot of people will be trying to convince them to (appeal).

“I don’t expect them to, but if they do, we’re here and ready – we’ve done it every day for a year. What’s another month or so? Hopefully we can all move forward.

“Everything that has been asked for Conor Benn, he’s done. I just hope that’s respected. At what point do you say ‘it’s been a year and a half since he’s boxed, how are we going to move forward?’.”

Benn’s positive tests were carried out by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association for the WBC, which cleared the boxer of any wrongdoing in February, pointing to an “elevated consumption of eggs” for the findings.

Leigh Wood, left, will defend his WBA featherweight title against Josh Warrington in October (Danny Lawson/PA)

Leigh Wood, left, will defend his WBA featherweight title against Josh Warrington in October (Danny Lawson/PA)

Hearn said: “You don’t just get cleared, especially not twice as well. One is through the people that controlled the test which is the WBC and VADA – cleared of any wrongdoing which were their words.

“A lot of people were unhappy that he didn’t go through the UKAD and the British Boxing Board of Control route. He did that and UKAD has cleared his suspension and cleared him to box.”

Hearn was speaking to promote Leigh Wood defending his WBA featherweight title against British rival Josh Warrington at Sheffield’s Utilita Arena Sheffield on October 7.

Warrington lost his IBF title in a majority points loss to Luis Alberto Lopez last December in his second defeat in his last four contests – but Hearn is convinced the Leeds fighter remains a danger.

Hearn added: “He looks fresh, he’s motivated and he’s as fit as a fiddle. I’m not saying he’s a favourite in the fight but I don’t think there’s anything in it. It’s a real 50-50 fight.”

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