By Barry Holbrook: Showtime’s Stephen Espinoza ripped Eddie Hearn over his desire to have had the Chris Eubank Jr vs. Conor Benn fight go forward despite Benn’s positive test for the banned drug clomifene.
Espinoza feels that it was “indefensible” for Hearn to have pushed to have the Eubank Jr-Benn fight go forward based on the British Boxing Board of Control not recognizing VADA and only using UKAD’s results.
Stephen feels that the safety of the fighters wasn’t the overall aim of the organizers. He feels they weren’t focused on money.
“It’s indefensible to pretend that this is a non-issue and to pretend that this should go forward because of procedural issues,” said Showtime’s Stephen Espinoza to Fight Hub TV about the Chris Eubank Jr vs. Conor Benn fight.
“You can’t play both sides of the fence. You can’t say when it works in your favor, VADA is great, and you can’t say that when it works against you, VADA is something that should be ignored.
“The reality is, it’s stuff like this that prevents the sport from growing even more, and it puts an undo risk on the fighters. It’s indefensible, and it’s an embarrassment for the sport.
“I can’t see any other MO. It certainly wasn’t for safety,” said Espinoza when asked if their MO was for profit, to make money by keeping the event going.
“There wasn’t a discussion about, and we’ve had situations, and there have been situations when there has been contamination, there have been low trace levels. There wasn’t any discussion of that.
“I don’t know what the levels are [of clomifene], and nobody does other than a few small people. But there was a very fierce defense and supposedly a huge lawsuit coming to enjoin the fight.
“It was clear they were never going to do that because if you go forward with that kind of lawsuit, then a lot of other information comes out, and people see the truth.
“At a certain point, it’s a black eye on the sport. At least that portion of the sport and the people involved in that part of it. UK Anti-Doping pulled their sanction. I don’t think there’s a whole lot of lack of clarity in this situation.
“Whether it’s VADA, UK Anti-Doping, it was serious enough that UKAD pulled the sanction. That’s everything you need to know. I think there needs to be more clarity. I know in UK Laws they have different privacy laws than ours, and it’s a complicated situation.
“But I think there needs to be more clarity and transparency. I think there has to be automatic notification certainly of the opponent and every governing body and every governmental regulatory body anytime any test is failed.
“Whether it’s UK Anti-Doping, whether it’s VADA, whether it’s a U.S State Commission. There should be transparency. We should all know this. I think it’s ridiculous that people are going forward with combat sports events without knowing the true story about what’s going on with the opponent. I think that’s indefensible.
“It’s a lot of collusion by a lot of people who should know better, who don’t have safety at risk, who are looking at their own commercial interests ahead of the safety of the fighters, ” said Espinoza when told that Benn’s positive test had been known for weeks.
“I don’t see any other way around it. It’s a complicated situation. If the other fighter knows and wants to go ahead anyway, that’s one hurdle. The question is, even when a fighter is willing to put himself at risk, there are situations in which we do not allow fighters to put themselves at risk.
“We say even for their own good, even though a fighter wants to continue with a fight, we stop the fight. Even though a fighter says, ‘I will fight somebody that has tested positive,’ I think there are situations where we step in or the government.
“We, as stewards of the sport, whether it’s a regulatory body or a sanctioning body, steps in and says, ‘I don’t care what the fighter says. We are looking long-term, and this isn’t something that we’re going to allow to happen,’ and I think that’s what people should have done.
“Look, if there’s transparency and clarity about what’s going on and there’s testing, and it’s above board, then sure,” said Espinoza when asked about his thoughts on Eubank Jr vs. Benn being rescheduled for later.
“There’s discipline coming in some form or another [for Benn], and that has to be complied with. I don’t think that should be evaded. They can always go to this jurisdiction or that and that is a problem for this sport as well.
“I don’t mean these two guys shouldn’t fight again. There’s a punishment that is going to be handed out, very likely. Once that has been satisfied, and there’s a clean record established, then everybody goes ahead.
“But I think saying that it was a ‘technicality, it wasn’t UKAD. So we’re going to go to this jurisdiction that ignores the regulatory body.’ That’s the kind of thing that makes a mockery of our sport,” said Espinoza.