RingSide Report

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Two Steps Forward How Many Back…

By Donald “Braveheart” Stewart

An opinion piece from the only Donald worth listening to…

Full Stop – In British English grammar a full stop is a lengthy pause, in the US, you call it a period. In the UK that tends to suggest feminine products. Here it means a period of time where I look at something in boxing in a little more depth. I am typing from my perspective of a fan who watches the sport closely. It’s an opinion. It is my opinion. Don’t like it? There are other opinions out there but if you don’t like it then good, debate and democracy are a good thing. If you do like it, feel free to spread the word.

Two steps forward how many back…

Just when you thought that one saga is coming to an end, boxing pops up and knocks you square on the nose and says, oh no it is not.

Connor Benn has lost. This time he has lost the appeal which was raised by the British Boxing Board of Control (BBB of C) and the UK Anti-Doping Agency (UKAD). They raised it when the National

Anti-Doping Panel lifted Benn’s suspension.

Is Benn now suspended again? Is he cleared to fight anywhere in the world other than the UK? Does Connor Benn care anymore? Do we?

We have to.

This is an embarrassing saga that has dragged on for far too long and is in danger of continually annoying the adults trying to watch the big boys in Saudi, the emergence of genuine contests within boxing and the fact that the sport is beginning to get its act together over the heavyweights, unified fights, and the rest of the malarkey.

But the picture is now, once more, confusing.

We have to fall back on what we know, which is that Connor Benn twice returned an adverse finding for clomiphene in his system as he was preparing for a fight #against Chris Eubank Jr. Two adverse tests found it was in his system.

Then came noise.

Benn relinquished his British license to fight so he cannot fight under the BBB of C in this country. He can fight under another sanctioning body. There are others.

As the Eubank Jr. fight had been sanctioned under the WBC, they became involved and eventually cleared Benn to fight and put him back in their rankings. This followed their own investigation which suggested that Benn had ingested infected eggs. Benn initially thought that ridiculous. The Benn used independent experts who convinced him that this was possible. His independent experts also suggested that the testing was unfavorable to Benn due to his physiological make-up meaning he may have created the substance himself and heightened levels are normal for him. Creditable scientists were making what appeared to be an outlandish claim, but one that made sense. At least to some.

Then the National Ant-Doping Panel lifted Benn’s suspension. UKAD and BBB of C were not happy, and they appealed. The appeal stopped Benn in his hometown tracks. It took months for that appeal to be heard and we were told at one point February 2024 would be when it was held, and the thing would be resolved then. The result took till the tail end of March to come out.

It was not what was expected. But that does not matter – what matters is that there is an end and a conclusion. Unfortunately, it feels further away than it ever has.

Right now, there is no suspension as neither UKAD nor the BBB of C have said there is one. Benn is focused and working out in his gym focused for his next fight. He fought in the US during this time and underwhelmed people by his performance, which, given what has been hanging over him has been nothing short of understandable.

It has led to the suggestion of him fighting eight division world champion Manny Pacquiao, whose political career has not been the success he hoped for and is now back looking for a way to return to the ring. Benn could give him that. Benn’s promoter and chief support, Eddie Hearn is keen, but he wants it in the UK, in a stadium in London. Right now, that is unlikely.

No matter what you think of Benn, Hearn, the delays in the process or the bodies involved within that process, this is a mess. It is a mess of boxing’s own making. If Benn is guilty, publish the proof and suspend him. If he is innocent, publish the proof and move on. Benn’s career is stalled. Strict liability is not being purposefully applied here. It was in his system, it got caught, you are guilty, sanction him and move on. Guilt can be pleaded down because of exigent circumstance or an appeal for clemency because I didn’t realize the hens did it…

I shall leave you with the following statement made by Benn in a UK morning show appearance. The question you have to ask yourself is, are these the words of an innocent man and if so, will he stay true to them? “I’m willing to spend every last penny I have and fight to the death to prove my innocence. My name matters more to me than anything else, fighting is fighting, but your name stands forever and so for me it’s been hard, it’s been challenging, but I’ve got a good team around me.”

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