Pi News –
Conor Ben’s father went to Las Vegas in 1990 and made a public statement. Conor will be hoping to follow in his father’s footsteps when he takes on undefeated American Peter Dobson next Saturday at the Cosmopolitan in the famous fight city.
Conor spent most of his boxing career avoiding comparisons to his father. Nigel Benn defended his WBO middleweight title at Bally’s in Las Vegas, stopping Iran Barkley with just three seconds left in the opening round. It was a brutal, wild fight. Benn was never invited back; Barkley won the world title after three fights and then defeated Tommy Hearns. Benn’s victory over Barkley is one of the most overlooked fights in British boxing.
Conor Benn has always been rude and unfair to his father, and it was especially damaging early in his career. Conor was raw, young and learned his skills in carefully selected fights; it’s the tried and tested way of boxing, but the sons of great fighters simply aren’t given the same chance. In recent years, Chris Eubank Jr. and Campbell Hutton have had to overcome ridiculous prejudices. Comparison and criticism are much worse at the beginning of a career. Benn was bullied after his initial fights and he struggled with the pressure of being Nigel’s son.
Conor was just starting his career, a fighter with the ability to be a real draw in the main events and a man capable of selling out huge arenas, when a failed drug test ruined everything. Ironically, in the last three or four fights before the failed test, Conor’s fighting style had clear signs of his father.
It was October 2022 and his fight with Chris Eubank Jr. was canceled less than 48 hours before the first call. It wasn’t a great time and Benn retreated, angry and determined to prove his innocence. His journey has been difficult and costly and is far from over. He failed two tests in 2022, one in July and the other in September, where he tested positive for Clomifene; there was confusion, there were accusations, and Benn insisted from day one that he would clear his name.
Benn was suspended by UK Anti-Doping (UKAD), but the National Anti-Doping Council overturned the provisional ban in July last year. The British Boxing Control Board and Ucad appealed against the decision to overturn the ban. The process isn’t over yet, but Benn hasn’t been licensed by the Board, so he’s fighting in Las Vegas.
Benn fought in Florida in September 2023 and won over 10 rounds. His opponent, Rodolfo Orozco, was later disqualified for failing a drug test. It was nothing more than a simple few rounds to keep the ring rust at bay.
After Orozco’s win, there was bold talk of a fight with Eubank Jr, possibly in Abu Dhabi or next Saturday at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, but when the Board decided not to hand Benn his old license back , both faded. The Eubank Jr. fight remains the main attraction; their fathers fought for two thrillers 30 years ago, there is a blood feud.
A fight with Dobson, unbeaten in 16 fights with nine early finishes, will keep Benn busy; Dobson is untested in the ring, but is known for his toughness. “We’ll see,” Benn said.
This is Benn’s ninth year as a professional boxer and he is unbeaten in 22 fights, with his last four or five fights in British rings having been impressive. Unsuccessful tests marred his path, and now he has come a long, long way. A good win against Dobson would help. The memory of his father tripping and stopping Barkley would be the ideal motivation. It’s not a cheap comparison, it’s a smart move.