Eddie Hearn has rubbished rumours that the British Boxing Board of Control’s decision to pull their involvement from the Chris Eubank Jr and Conor Benn fight was influenced by a Daily Mail article.
The event, set for this evening, was sensationally scrapped at the last minute when it was revealed that Benn – who was due to come up in weight by 10lb – had been found to have trace amounts of a banned substance in his system by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency.
What followed was outcry from fans and pundits alike, and a public statement from the BBBofC that withdrew their sanctioning of the fight as it was ‘not in the interests’ of the sport. Much has been made about the timing of the statement, and whether or not it was influenced by the Mail’s exclusive.
In an interview with IFL TV, the promoter has now revealed that the board’s decision to ‘prohibit’ the catchweight clash had been made before the story was made public.
“Actually, the board had already written to us to say that the fight would not be sanctioned previously to that [Daily Mail story]. I think it might’ve been the morning, or whatever.
“Riath [Al-Samarrai, Daily Mail] put a statement out after, and then eventually, once that statement went out from Riath, they [the BBBofC] publicly put their statement out that they’d previously sent to us. So that is not the case. We already knew, before that article dropped in the Daily Mail, that the board had said we are not prepared to sanction this fight because we do not feel like it’s in the best interests of boxing.”
“The decision had already been made, prior to the article.”
In contrast to what many might think, Hearn actually said that the article from the Daily Mail helped when making the decision to postpone the fight.
“In that situation, you see the response and you think yeah, this is the right thing to do.”
Despite that, the promoter’s action in pulling the fight when the fan reaction was clear was certainly not immediate. Rather, the teams behind the scenes appeared to deliberate for another day as to whether or not to proceed with the event. Ultimately, as the world now knows, it didn’t go ahead.