Conor Benn has revealed the “demons” he had to contend with when returning to the ring against Rodolfo Orozco on Saturday night.
The 26 year old concluded 17 months of inactivity triggered by his twice testing positive for the performance-enhancing drug clomiphene. His fight with Chris Eubank Jr was cancelled and he was provisionally suspended by UK Anti-Doping (UKAD).
That suspension was lifted by a ruling from the National Anti-Doping Panel – UKAD and the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBC) are regardless yet to clear him of any wrongdoing – but after previously speaking of his “excitement” ahead of the date with Orozco at Caribe Royale Orlando in Florida, Benn acknowledged the numerous psychological challenges he had to overcome throughout the course of him winning, via unanimous decision, over 10 rounds.
“There was a lot of demons that I had to put to bed Saturday night,” he said. “It was more mental than anything else. It’s been a way of living – demons I’ve been carrying around with me for months. Doubts. Self-doubts. Not knowing if I was ever going to fight again or get in the ring again. Mentally, what I’ve had to come back from – would I be the same? Has it had its toll? This has been really detrimental to my health and mental health; it’s been really traumatic, what I went through.
“How did I know if I’d be the same fighter? You have to do it in sparring, but under the lights it’s a completely different game. Has my relationship and outlook changed on the sport? There was so many different things going through my mind. It was more an internal battle, rather than pressure on myself to look good for the public – in terms of proving them wrong. It was thoughts I’d built up during the period I’d had out.
“I felt spiteful. I felt calculated. I felt disciplined in there. I felt strong. I felt explosive. I done what I needed to do in there – saw 10 rounds out; no signs of ring rust. I done what I needed to do.”
Benn’s promoter, Eddie Hearn of Matchroom, has already spoken of attempting to revive the fight with Eubank Jr for a date in December. It may yet prove more difficult to get approval from the BBBC than it was from the Texas State Athletic Commission, the Florida Athletic Commission and the Association of Boxing Commissions, who oversaw his controversial fight with Orozco, but it was perhaps revealing that Benn weighed in at a career-heaviest 153 1/2lbs, close to the catchweight of 156lbs he and Eubank Jr had previously agreed.
“It’s definitely the heaviest I’ve been,” he said. “[Orozco] was a middle in there, no doubt – maybe super middle. He was a big lump; 6ft 1ins? The only thing I noticed was he was able to absorb my shots better. The only difference that’s noticeable is they’re [opponents] able to carry the shots better; absorb the shots better, and use their weight a lot more if they know what they’re doing.
“[A fight in December is] out of my hands. There’s not really much I can do. I can just do the fighting. I let the team handle the rest. I’ve got the best team – the best setup – around me, and they’re fighting my corner. I’m doing the training and putting the work in – I stayed dedicated in this time I’ve had off, as you can clearly tell; there ain’t been no ring rust – so I just do what I do and I trust them to do what they do.”