Hearn backs Benn to fly the flag for British boxing

As Saudi Arabia’s influence continues to grow across the boxing landscape, the UK’s higher-caliber fighters, such as Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua, have been working closely with Turki Alalshikh.

Eddie Hearn believes that has left a gap in the UK market for one of his stars to fill the void left by Fury and Joshua’s absence, and the man to fill the void is Conor Benn. 

Benn, a controversial figure due to his anti-doping issues, returns on Saturday against Peter Dobson at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas in a clash of the unbeaten welterweights.

The 27-year-old Benn fell foul of anti-doping authorities in 2022 in the lead-up to his highly-anticipated pay-per-view encounter with rival Chris Eubank Jr. Benn failed two VADA-administered tests and despite Benn’s initial reluctance to cooperate with the British Boxing Board of Control and UKAD in their investigations, the welterweight was cleared to resume his career in July by the National Anti-Doping Panel. Benn’s clearance, however, does remain subject to an appeal process by the BBBofC and UKAD. 

A win against Dobson is paramount for Hearn if Benn is to fill the void left behind by the heavyweight giants. 

“When you talk about the biggest names in British boxing, you’ve got Fury and AJ, but outside of those two, Conor’s right there,” Hearn told the PA news agency.

“With a lot of the big fights and big names moving internationally at the moment, we really need Conor Benn back in the UK. We want this appeal done and dusted so we can start letting him fill up arenas in the UK.

“He’s young enough to fly that flag for the next couple of years, and we need that. British boxing needs it. The toughest thing is not having a plan, a vision, or a schedule in terms of what’s going to happen.

“We’re coming to the end of that whole saga now [against the BBBofC and UKAD]. I’m sure there’s still a couple of bumps in the road, but it feels like we’re getting some momentum now.”

Hearn has previously suggested Benn’s UK return would be a domestic clash, having mentioned in recent months the likes of Kell Brook, Liam Smith, and Eubank Jr. Hearn would not say any confirmed dates at yesterday’s final press conference, but intimated that, “Late April or early May” would be his preferred period to hold a significant fight for Benn.