Conor Benn has confirmed he expects his next fight to take place overseas.
The 26-year-old has been provisionally suspended by UK Anti-Doping (UKAD), dating back to March 15, after twice failing voluntary drug tests last year when testing positive for the female fertility drug clomifene.
That ban prevents Benn from fighting on any promotion overseen by the British Boxing Board of Control, but not necessarily from those under other governing bodies. The Board can ask those governing bodies not to sanction him.
Benn had been scheduled to fight Chris Eubank Jr in October before news of his positive tests broke, and though he has since remained inactive, speculation persists that he could yet fight before either serving a ban or clearing his name.
He has been training in Los Angeles alongside John Ryder, who on May 6 fights Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and will join Ryder and their trainer Tony Sims in Guadalajara, Mexico, for what represents Ryder’s biggest fight.
Asked if his next fight – which inevitably will be his biggest so far – will, indeed, be overseas, the welterweight then replied: “Highly likely.
“I’ve been training. I’m out here in the States, working hard with John [Ryder]. In terms of the legal case, I know we’re dealing with UKAD. And clearing my name – that’s the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do from the start. Get it all sorted. But there’s a lot of politics involved; my priority is getting all this cleaned up.
“I can fight. I can fight tomorrow. We’re sorting some big fights now. There are big names. The [Manny] Pacquiaos; the Kell Brooks, but I’m looking more towards titles. I’m not coming back for – I can’t even say 'Coming back'. I’ve been here. Just give me whoever.
“I’ve been number one in Britain for the past two years; maybe it is me coming over here [to America] and cleaning up over here. There’s no one, domestically, for me. Whoever my team put in front of me. But I ain’t coming back for no easy fight.”
The Board have spoken of potentially disciplining those who assist Benn in fighting, should he do so beyond their jurisdiction, before he has been cleared of any wrongdoing or served a ban.
In those circumstances Sims is the closest to him who would be at risk, and asked if that concerned him, Benn said: “I don’t believe he would. I don’t believe they can do that.
“They can’t stop me from fighting abroad. I don’t know, legally, if they can do that.
“I’ve been working hard. I’m extremely excited for the public to see a spectacular knockout in my next fight.”
Asked about the same risk, the respected Sims said: “We’re coming to a conclusion on everything so hopefully it won’t come to that. So we’ll just have to see what happens.
“He’s been through a difficult time, but I think we’re coming to the conclusion of it pretty soon. I think he’s come through the worst stage of it, and he’s back training and back in a good place. Hopefully the conclusion will come and he’ll be fighting again pretty soon.”