It is a week before Saul "Canelo" Alvarez returns, and yet it is Conor Benn's imminent return that is the dominant story of the weekend.
Benn competes against Rodolfo Orozco in the co-main event of a Matchroom Boxing card at the Caribe Royale Orlando, Florida, on Saturday, September 23.
News of his inclusion at the show was made Wednesday — just days before he was supposed to compete.
His absence has been a large shadow over his career. Days prior to a pay-per-view clash with middleweight Chris Eubank Jr., Benn's past positive tests for clomifene, a performance-enhancing drug, were reported. This caused an event cancelation and left the status of Benn's fighting career unknown at the time.
Benn claims that the result stems from contaminated eggs and given the copious amounts he was consuming, he has maintained innocence.
The regulators of the sport have been split. The UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) has yet to clear him yet the National Anti-Doping Panel did so in July. The World Boxing Council also cleared Benn in February for him to continue to be ranked. As Benn’s last fight was a second-round knockout of Chris Van Heerden in April of 2022, this means he is approaching a year-and-a-half since he last fought.
Benn will feature in a co-main event to a clash between the undefeated Richardson Hitchins, and two-time world title challenger Jose Zepeda, battling for their spot at the top of the division. The unusual nature that overshadows the bout lingers — why was Benn's bout announced so late?
Benn is facing a lesser-known fighter Rodolfo Orozco upon his return. One could almost assume that Orozco might have attributes tailor-made for Benn’s greatest strength which is power. With potentially, a viral clip coming for social media that could propel a potential December fight with his biggest opposition out there, Chris Eubank Jr.
The tricky circumstance of all of this is rather clear - is fame and fortune the only reason special exceptions are being made for Benn? To Benn’s credit, he has said all the right things and even gone as far as stating that if proven guilty, he supports a lifetime ban; however, he said he wants a fair process and urges against trial by media or politics for those who are innocent.
That being said, in the age of social media is that reasonable as Benn is famous, and his story is getting great viewership.
With Chris Eubank Jr.'s recent triumph against Liam Smith, that fight which had simmered after the adverse finding in a drug test with Benn as well as Eubank Jr getting knocked out in January by Liam Smith - now as hot as ever. The bout was a continuation of their father’s past rivalries, as Conor Benn’s father is Nigel Benn, and Eubank Jr.’s father is, Chris Eubank. If Benn were to win, it appears that revisiting that fight might be what we are in for.
The keyword is win - and that is what Benn is trying to do tonight.
Benn now becomes a figure bigger than boxing in many ways. To some he is an anti-establishment guy, who is being wronged by the system, to others he is a fighter who shouldn't be fighting. The big thing is no one will feel neutral about him once knowing his story leading into this bout.