The boxing business may be fragmented beyond repair, but Robert Smith gets the sense that the top commissions in the world tend to see eye to eye on the matters that count the most.
In a piece published in The Guardian this week, Smith, the head of the British Boxing Board of Control, the regulatory body that oversees prizefighting in the United Kingdom, expressed his belief in a sense of unity and congruence among boxing’s haphazard governing bodies.
Smith’s remarks were in reference to recent news that handlers for the embattled British welterweight Conor Benn are exploring preliminary ways for him to obtain a foreign license in a major jurisdiction, such as Las Vegas or New York, in order to resume his career, thereby skirting the fact that Benn cannot box in his homeland since he relinquished his license with the Board last year in the wake of his two failed drug tests.
Benn tested positive for the banned performance-enhancing drug clomiphene on two separate occasions and both were administered by the respected third-party testing agency, Voluntary Anti-Doping Association.
The Board and United Kingdom Anti-Doping are currently investigating Benn, although Smith has publicly complained that Benn’s legal team has not been forthcoming with certain information
In The Guardian interview, Smith expressed hope that commissions such as Nevada and New York will, like the BBBofC, not allow Benn to obtain a license until there is legitimate proof of his innocence.
“Obviously they’re (major commissions) aware of what’s going on with the Benn case,” Smith told The Guardian’s Donald McRae. “We don’t have any power to decide licenses elsewhere, but we can give any advice we have—which at this stage is very little because we haven’t received any documentation [from Benn’s representatives]. Ultimately these other commissions have to do their own investigations and it’s their decision [whether or not to license Benn].”
“The biggest problem with the sport,” Smith continued, “is that there is no world governing body. We all look after ourselves, [which is] a great shame. However, the big organizations, and I would like to claim we are one of the big organizations, along with the state commissions in Nevada, California, New Jersey and New York, tend to do the same thing.”
Benn recently became the beneficiary of some favorable news last month when the World Boxing Council ruled that it found “reasonable” the explanation that Benn’s positive tests could have been the consequence of “highly elevated consumption of eggs.” As a result, Benn has been reinstated into the sanctioning body’s welterweight rankings.
Not long after that, Benn recently informed a British tabloid that he was planning to sue the Board for damages to the tune of £3.5million in their handling of his drug tests.
Benn has also taken issue with the WBC’s ruling. In a lengthy statement, he said the sanctioning body did him a “disservice” by suggesting his positive drug tests were the result of contaminated eggs, and not, as he believes, errors in testing protocol.
Hearn told The Guardian in the same article that he is not interested in trying to obtain a license for Benn from a commission with low profile, only ones with “relevance”. Hearn also stated that Australia could also be an option, since Benn has family there. Hearn said he expects Benn to receive a license in “a couple of weeks.” Elsewhere, Hearn has said he hopes to have Benn return to the ring by June.
“I’m not going to Luxembourg or somewhere that doesn’t have relevance to his career,” Hearn said. “There have been preliminary talks with [US] commissions … about a month ago.”