Conor Benn will make his boxing comeback in Orlando on Saturday in his first bout since his two failed drugs tests.
Benn has not stepped into the ring since he knocked out Chris van Heerden in April last year. His proposed October bout with Chris Eubank Jr fell through following two positive tests for the banned drug clomifene, which resulted in him being hit with a provision suspension.
Benn promised to prove his innocence and, while he was formally charged by UK Anti-Doping in April, it was announced in July he had been cleared by an independent National Anti-Doping Panel.
EL JEFE IS BACK!! REDEMPTION‼️🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/enuYMxZ2SU
— Conor Nigel Benn (@ConorNigel) September 20, 2023
UKAD and the British Boxing Board of Control appealed against the decision to lift Benn’s provisional suspension last month, which prevented the son of former two-weight world champion Nigel Benn being able to resume his boxing career in his home country.
Benn and promotion company Matchroom have now decided to try and get his career back on track with a bout in the United States.
Mexican veteran Rodolfo Orozco has been drafted in as a last-minute opponent for Benn, whose fight will be the co-main event of the show also involving super-lightweights Richardson Hitchins and Jose Zepeda at Caribe Royale.
Benn said: “I am undefeated in the ring, and in spirit. A return on Saturday is a step closer to redemption.
“After that, I’m putting the 147-160 divisions on notice. You are looking at a determined man with a deep desire to beat them all.”
Even though Greenwich-born Benn (21-0, 14KOs) will fight for the first time in 17 months on Saturday, his fight to clear his name is not over yet.
Benn relinquished his BBBofC licence after his bout against Eubank was scrapped and criticised the governing body’s handling of his case.
Benn’s positive tests were conducted by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association for the WBC, which cleared the boxer of any wrongdoing in February, pointing to an “elevated consumption of eggs” for the findings.
Londoner Benn himself insisted eggs were never blamed in a 270-page report he sent the WBC, but he has repeatedly stressed his innocence, having faced a two-year ban.
No decision has been announced regarding the appeals of UKAD and BBBofC, but Benn will still resume his nine-year professional career with a tune-up fight in America this weekend.
Benn’s long-serving trainer Tony Sims had called for a warm-up contest before any potential catchweight clash with Eubank Jr, which has been mooted again in recent weeks.
Orozco (32-3-3, 24KOs) is only 24 but has been fighting in the pro ranks since he was 16 and has lost three of his 38 contests.
— Matchroom Boxing (@MatchroomBoxing) September 20, 2023
Matchroom Sport chair Eddie Hearn said: “Conor Benn is back and I’m looking forward to seeing him pick up where he left off.
“He’s ready to go straight in for a big fight now but his trainer Tony Sims will be pleased to get him back sooner against a game opponent in Rodolfo Orozco.
“Conor is looking unbelievable in the gym and I cannot wait to see him back in the ring where he belongs on what is a fantastic fight card in Florida.”
Benn has been linked with future fights against Eubank Jr, Scottish welterweight Josh Taylor and former world super-lightweight champion Mario Barrios, but instead it will be Orozco who gets the chance to test himself against the 26-year-old.
“I want to thank Matchroom and BXSTRS for this opportunity. This is exactly what I’ve been waiting for,” Orozco insisted.
“This isn’t short notice for me because I’ve been preparing for this moment my entire life. You’ve made a mistake Conor, and I’ll show you that this Saturday.”