Eddie Hearn reacts to criticism of Conor Benn comeback: ‘He’s cleared to box’

Eddie Hearn has dismissed criticism of Conor Benn’s comeback this weekend, insisting that the welterweight is ‘cleared to box’.

Benn has not fought since April 2022, with two failed drug tests derailing his planned clash with Chris Eubank Jr in October 2022.

The Briton, 26, was subsequently stripped of his licence by the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBofC), and he was charged by UK Anti-Doping (Ukad). The World Boxing Council later cleared Benn of any wrongdoing, and in July, his suspension was lifted by the National Anti-Doping Panel. However, the BBBofC and Ukad said they would appeal that decision.

As such, Benn is still unable to box in Britain, but he will return to the ring in Florida on Saturday, when he fights Rodolfo Orozco, having obtained a Texas licence.

The move has drawn criticism from many fans, and Robert Smith, general secretary of the BBBofC, told Talksport on Thursday (21 September): “Sometimes people look after themselves rather than the sport in general, which is slightly disappointing. I understand why they do it, but no, I don’t think he should be boxing.

“Personally I don’t think he should be boxing until this matter is cleared. Hopefully that’ll be done as soon as possible. He hasn’t cleared [his name]; a number of issues are still outstanding, which everybody’s aware of. We’ve decided to appeal a decision, and once the appeal has taken place, we’ll take it on board from there.

“But when Eddie says [Benn has] cleared his name, according to us, we haven’t had an explanation of how the positive test came about, so I don’t quite agree with Eddie on that one.”

Hearn then spoke to Boxing News on Thursday, saying there was a difference between Smith’s use of the words “cleared his name” and Benn actually being “cleared to fight”.

“Right now we’re very comfortable, as are the ABC (Association of Boxing Commissions), as are Florida, as are Texas, as [is] everybody involved,” Hearn said.

“And by the way, the commissions [in the US] spoke to the board, who said: ‘He’s not suspended, he’s cleared to fight.’ And if he wasn’t, [the board] could’ve told them that, but they didn’t tell him that, because he is cleared to fight. At no point did the board say to these commissions: ‘No, he is not cleared to fight.’

Conor Benn is unbeaten as a professional but has not boxed since April 2022 (Getty Images)
Conor Benn is unbeaten as a professional but has not boxed since April 2022 (Getty Images)

“I understand people’s frustration, but we are doing everything by the book. He’s cleared to fight, everyone’s happy for him to fight, he’ll continue to fight until he’s not cleared to fight – which I believe will not happen.

“He went through the process that everybody said he wouldn’t go through, that everybody said he’d lose, and he won his case. Now everybody wants to be an expert and say, ‘What actually happened on this case was.’ No, no, no. None of you were on the case, none of you know what was presented to the WBC and Ukad.

“His suspension was lifted. No ban. Cleared to box. But no one wants to actually consider that information.”

Benn’s professional record stands at 21-0 (14 knockouts), while Mexican Orozco, 24, has a pro record of 32-3-3. The pair’s bout will take place at 154lbs.

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