Conor Benn must be allowed to fight again in Britain to fill the void left by Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury, according to promoter Eddie Hearn.
Benn follows in the footsteps of father Nigel by headlining in Las Vegas on Saturday but the two failed tests he returned for a banned drug in October 2022 continue to have consequences for his career.
While Benn, who has always insisted he is innocent of wrongdoing, had a provisional suspension lifted last July, UK Anti-Doping and the British Boxing Board of Control launched an appeal against the decision.
“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 to 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, I’m sure there’s still a couple of bumps in the road but it just feels like now we’re getting some momentum.”
“I think there is a huge amount of frustration in him,” Hearn said. “He still gets accusations and criticism. It’s an incredible amount of someone’s life that he’s had to go through those adversities.”
Even if Benn cannot fight on home soil yet, Hearn is catering to that audience this weekend as the main event against Peter Dobson at the Cosmopolitan will start around 10:30pm in the UK – 2:30pm local time.
This is Benn’s second fight under US jurisdiction, having made a low-key return by outpointing Rodolfo Orozco last September to extend his unbeaten professional record to 22 wins from as many fights.
Hearn is optimistic of arranging a big fight against Eubank Jr, Kell Brook or Liam Smith in late April or early May but recognises Dobson (16-0, 9KOs) could leave those best-laid plans in tatters.
“It’s much easier to deliver those fights in the UK because you know you’re going to fill stadiums and arenas. All of it is irrelevant without victory on Saturday, though.”
Nigel Benn fought twice in Sin City, winning both by first-round stoppage, with victory in 1990 over Iran Barkley especially impressive as the American went on to claim world titles in two weight classes.
“There are so many similarities between Conor and Nigel, particularly in the way they fight – it’s identical,” Hearn added. “I see it so clearly, even when I’m talking to him, he is his father’s son.
“That same violence and ruthless streak that Nigel brought to the ring, Conor does as well. You’ll see that in bundles on Saturday.”