Conor Benn returns to the ring for the first time in 18 months this Saturday as he faces Rodolfo Orozco in Orlando. ‘The Destroyer’ has been out of the ring as he attempts to clear his name from two failed drugs tests in the build-up to his cancelled 2022 bout with Chris Eubank Jr.
Benn relinquished his British Boxing Board of Control licence ahead of a hearing in October of last year. He was provisionally banned by UK Anti-Doping before that ban was lifted by the National Anti-Doping Panel. The UKAD and BBBoC have appealed that decision.
The fighter’s name is not yet cleared, despite that being Benn’s stated intention since the violations were first logged. He does, however, maintain his innocence when it comes to knowingly ingesting the banned substance in question. Clomifene was the drug found in Benn’s system ahead of the scrapped bout with Eubank Jr, a fertility drug that heightens testosterone production in men.
Bizarrely, the WBC kept Benn in their rankings citing satisfaction with his explanation that the boxer mistakenly attained the levels through “an elevated level of egg consumption”. Benn himself has distanced himself from the egg defence and claims it was not included in any of his appeals.
What we have is a fighter not legally able to fight in his own country continuing his career overseas before any ruling has officially cleared his name. Benn is not yet exonerated, with the outcome of the UKAD and BBBoC appeals pending. But Florida has granted him a licence and Matchroom have added the 26-year-old to the undercard of Richardson Hitchins vs Jose Zepeda. The chief support comes from Derby’s Sandy Ryan, who faces Jessica McCaskill in a welterweight title unification.
Promoters Matchroom Boxing have taken care to reduce public scrutiny, with Benn’s participation only emerging on Wednesday. Given the fact the fight takes place on Saturday, this is a miniscule turnaround for a fighter of Benn’s profile. It appears likely the fighter has known about this engagement longer and that it was announced close to the night to limit backlash.
Fighting in the States, where Benn is less of a household name, will also help. A British crowd is likely to be hostile if ‘The Destroyer’ is ever licenced on these shores again. But an Orlando audience is less likely to have followed the ins and outs of Benn’s ban and various appeals as closely.
In amongst the ballyhoo it is easy to forget there is an actual fight taking place. Benn will face off with 32-3-3 Mexican Rodolfo Orozco. While his record looks decent numerically, ‘Sinaloita’ has never fought outside of his home country. There are no standout names on his record either. Make no mistake, this is a fight designed to make Benn look devastating.
That in itself is a sensible strategy. This is a fighter who hasn’t stepped into a prize ring since stopping Chris van Heerden in April 2022. A warm-up against a moderate foe is part and parcel after such a lay-off. But the issue many fans have with this fight isn’t the opponent, but the fact it is happening at all.
Nothing can stop Conor Benn, not even a pair of drugs test failures. It is deeply concerning for the sport of boxing that that is the case. But for as long as there are big name fighters failing these tests, there will be governing bodies somewhere in the world willing to licence them. In boxing, name value is often all that matters. It is the value of his name, rather than any clearance of wrongdoing, that sees Conor Benn fight this weekend.
*18+ | BeGambleAware | Odds Subject To Change