Former champion and stablemate of Conor Benn, Joe Cordina, has stood up for his training partner following his recent positive drugs test which led to the cancellation of his fight with Chris Eubank Jr.
Welshman Cordina was the IBF super-featherweight world champion until recently, where he was stripped of the belt, having becoming unable to defend it due to injury. Like Cordina, Benn’s fight was also cancelled, but for a reason which will draw less sympathy from boxing fans – failing a VADA drugs test. However, Cordina told Seconds Out that he believes that any foul-play from Benn will not have been intentional.
“I know Conor very well, we train together, he’s a very very good friend of mine and I don’t believe one bit, intentionally, that he would take something. One, there’s too much money at risk, two, he’s not that way inclined and three he’s getting drug tested, so if he’s taking something he knows it’s going to come up. It just doesn’t make sense.”
“Deep down, in my heart, I’m thinking with my heart but I’m also thinking with my head, it’s not making sense up here [in his head], but I believe that he [Benn] wouldn’t do that [take an illegal substance]. People think different, I know boxing is a very fickle sport, people will be jumping on him and I’ve seen it, people are even slandering me and I’ve never failed a drug test in my life.”
The former champion also responded to pictures of Benn circulating social media, which compare his physique, suggesting increased muscle mass from steroids.
These accusations come as the drug that Benn tested positive for, clomifene, has been used by athletes to mask steroid cycles, but Cordina states that the improvement in Benn’s shape instead comes from the hard work he has been putting in during training.
“He’s grown, he’s developed, people are going on about his body shape from five years ago. If you train in the gym for five or six days a week for six months, your body is going to change. People have to remember, he’s a young man, he’s got a family. People are jumping to conclusions straight away, yes he’s got a trace of something in his system, but before you start giving him s**t and trying to terrorise him and ruin his life, let everything come out first, let the facts come out and then we will go from there.”
Finally, Cordina called on the public and boxing media, particularly former boxer Curtis Woodhouse, to tone the criticism down until there is more information about Benn’s situation.
“They’ve got to remember, we all go on about mental health and things like that and they are on him. If anything happens to him, god forbid anything does happen to him, how are them people going to feel. Tyson Fury, Billy Joe Saunders, Canelo, Martinez, Oscar Valdez, none of them have had the stick that I’ve seen Conor Benn have.”
“I’ve seen some bad stuff on it, like Curtis Woodhouse for instance, yeah you’ve got a new YouTube channel and your trying to jump on the hot topic at the moment and your trying to jump on the bandwagon, but leave it off bruv. You’re a 40-year-old man and you’re slandering a kid, he’s a young man and you’re proper trying to ruin his life, leave it out.”
Conor Benn’s case is pending investigation and, if he is found guilty, he could face a four-year ban from the sport. As for Cordina, his hand injury will keep him out of action for the foreseeable future, but he is expected to be the first challenger for the winner of Zelfa Barrett vs Shavkat Rakhimov, where he will get the chance to win his belt back.