JEFF POWELL: Sanity prevailed with fight called off, but the biggest loser in this fiasco is Eubank


JEFF POWELL: Boxing came out of the chaos with its nose clean, not badly bloodied as promoter Eddie Hearn called off his struggle to save the O2 show from Conor Benn’s failed drugs test…. but the biggest loser in this fiasco is Chris Eubank Jr

  • Boxing breathed a huge sigh of relief as sanity prevailed with the fight off
  • Hearn was under duress to rescue the fight due to the millions at stake
  • But the loss of credibility to the sport itself would have been much greater 

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The grizzly spectre of Chris Eubank Jr having to box Conor Benn under the dark cloud of his opponent’s failed drugs test lifted as the fight was finally called off.

Boxing breathed a huge sigh of relief as promoter Eddie Hearn called off his struggle to save the O2 show from Benn’s positive return for testosterone.

It had already become clear that the British Boxing Board of control would not re-sanction Saturday’s multi-million-pound show under any circumstances.

Saturday's fight between Chris Eubank Jr (left) and Conor Benn (right) is officially off

Saturday’s fight between Chris Eubank Jr (left) and Conor Benn (right) is officially off

Hearn had tested the legal waters but there was little or no chance of gaining a High Court injunction against the Board. Not with the odious whiff of performance enhancing drugs in the air.

Sanity prevailed. The hardest game came out of this particular chaos with its nose clean, not badly bloodied.

The risk was averted of Eubank – dehydrated by coming down to the catch-weight for this fight left over from the Nineties by their famous fathers – being seriously hospitalised or worse by Benn punching well above his natural poundage with substance-boosted power.

The consequences of that to the sport would have been calamitous.

Benn tested positive for banned substance clomifene in the build-up to the mega-fight

Benn tested positive for banned substance clomifene in the build-up to the mega-fight

Benn tested positive for banned substance clomifene in the build-up to the mega-fight

If and when this nostalgic circus act is rehatched it will have to be after several weeks, at least, of rigorous and very frequent testing of Benn. Probably Eubank also, even though he is the innocent victim here.

Should the B-sample of his Vada test confirms the A-detection of a women’s fertility drug which builds muscle and stamina in men, Benn could be banned from the ring for some time.

Benn had been busily protesting his innocence until almost 48 hours before the scheduled fight. But when he suddenly packed his bags into his car and drove away from a Thames-side shortly hotel before the week’s final media conference the cancellation notice was on the wall.

The tens of millions committed to this production – including seven-figure purses for the combatants – put Hearn under duress to rescue the fight.

Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn had remained adamant the fight should still go ahead

Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn had remained adamant the fight should still go ahead

Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn had remained adamant the fight should still go ahead 

The pressure was intensified by DAZN – his digital streaming TV partner – facing significant financial losses from refunding pay-per-view purchases for this fight and potential defection of thousands of disappointed regular monthly subscribers.

The loss of credibility to the very sport itself would have been much greater had the fight been allowed to go ahead.

Although some image damage has been caused by this scandal plus the collapse of the even more highly anticipated mega- heavyweight Battle of Britain between Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua.

But it was looking much worse before Hearn made his announcement.

The biggest single loser in this fiasco is Eubank. Chris Jr has slaved in training to bring his weight done to three pounds under his usual middleweight boxing limit.

This is no easy feat for a man in his 30s who had recently moved up to super middleweight, to good effect on that division

Matchroom confirmed that the fight has been 'postponed' on Thursday afternoon, revealing news on ticket refunds will follow

Matchroom confirmed that the fight has been 'postponed' on Thursday afternoon, revealing news on ticket refunds will follow

Matchroom confirmed that the fight has been ‘postponed’ on Thursday afternoon, revealing news on ticket refunds will follow

He will not receive his full purse now. Will he be paid decent compensation for his efforts this time, especially since there is no absolute certainty of the fight being rescheduled?

Only Hearn can tell us.

As of last night he wasn’t saying. When Hearn appeared before the packed media later he offered only brief additions to the official statement and refused questions.

Hearn insisted this is only a postponement, adding that the decision had been taken by himself and co-promoter Kalle Sauerland ‘for the good of boxing.’ Not by the High Court, as had been speculated.

Never has Fast Eddie been so tight-lipped.

Had he asked us about the pulling of the plug, My reply would have been: ‘Thank God!’



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