Ricky Hatton believes family friend Conor Benn is telling the truth about his positive drugs test after the 26-year-old had his fight with Chris Eubank Jr indefinitely postponed following tests finding he had used a banned substance.
Benn is fighting to prove his innocence after testing positive for clomifene, a drug often used to boost testosterone levels.
The Englishman could face a ban of four years if found guilty of doping by the UK Anti-Doping Agency (UKAD).
Benn is keen to clear his name and has hired one of the world’s leading sports lawyers Morgan Sports Law, who worked with heavyweight world champion Tyson Fury and four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome.
Ricky Hatton has backed Conor Benn to prove his innocence after positive drugs test
Benn tested positive for the drug clomifene in the build-up to his bout with Chris Eubank Jr
Benn has maintained he will clear his name and has hired top lawyers Morgan Sports Law
Hatton’s son Campbell has built a strong relationship with the Benn camp, who have helped him to establish himself in the professional ranks, and rallied round the devastated fighter.
‘I was there at the press conference because I had Chloe (Watson) on the undercard and she was gutted. I was gutted for the two headliners as well,’ said Hatton.
Benn (middle) has his fight with Eubank Jr postponed
‘Conor says he is innocent and I believe him, I am very close to him and his dad – Conor has done a lot to help Campbell – and I hope he clears his name.’
Hatton said the postponement of the eagerly-anticipated bout had far-reaching consequences.
‘One lad on the bill was in tears because the purse was supposed to clear his debts and help get his kids Christmas presents and that’s the side people don’t see,’ he added.
‘It’s hard for the board to police the promoters because money talks. There needs to be more structure. Why pay for Vada testing if you are going to ignore it?
‘I think the rules need to be more clear.
‘The board does a very good job – compared to some governing bodies around the world – but we just need to tighten everything up and all be on the same wavelength.
‘Everything in boxing seems up in the air.’
Boxing has had its reputation for being a clean sport tarnished in recent years with Benn’s postponed fight just one of multiple top-flight bouts that have been rearranged due to positive drugs tests.
Anthony Joshua famously had his fight against Jarrell Miller in 2019 called off after the latter was found to be using performance-enhancing drugs.
Hatton’s son Campbell Hatton (right) has built a good relationship with the Benn camp
Benn, 26, could be banned from boxing for four years if found guilty of doping by UKAD
Chris Eubank Jr (left) was set to drop his weight to 157lbs for his bout against rival Benn
But 44-year-old Hatton revealed he isn’t surprised to see fighters break the rules given the huge sums of money involved in the sport and questioned the punishments handed out to boxing’s biggest stars who have been found to have cheated.
He quoted Canelo Alvarez’s punishment of six months for failed drug tests in the build-up to his fight with Gennady Golovkin in 2018 after the Mexican tested positive for using the chemical clenbuterol. Alvarez maintained his innocence and blamed contaminated meat for the finding.
‘Fighters should want to know that they are the best in the world and how are they ever going to know if you’ve cheated? You might get wins and more money but they seem to be becoming more important than the glory,’ he said.
‘There are not real punishments at the top, Canelo (Alvarez) got six months, had a knee operation and came back even better. Most top fighters have six months off between fights anyway.
Benn was hoping to seek revenge for his father Nigel Benn who famously lost to Chris Eubank
Benn previously beat Chris Algieri to claim the WBA Continental Welterweight title in 2021
‘It’s almost worth it for these t*****s to take the stuff! Things need to be more black and white.
‘Ukad catch enough cyclists and sprinters so why can’t they for boxing. We’re hitting each other in the face, not pedalling up a f*****g hill or jumping over a f*****g hurdle.
‘It might not be such a bad thing if this instance makes boxing get its arse in gear. We are in the hurt business, not doing sports day.
‘Should the promoters chip in, like a tax or extra sanctioning fee? That looks like a great idea because any promoter who didn’t sign up would be frowned upon.’
Hatton also astonishingly claimed that he knows the fighters using drugs and the gyms where they are taken, explaining that you can get away with cheating if you know scientific experts.
English-born Benn will now have to wait to find out if he will be allowed to return to boxing
‘You know the fighters that are doing it,’ he said. ‘And you know the gyms where it happens. You just know. I think there is a lot of it going on.
‘You see when a fighter suddenly changes gyms and within a fortnight is knocking everyone out.
‘If you know the body and an expert in chemistry and biology you can get away with it.
‘This is giving boxing a bad look because it’s been going on for a while and still nothing has been done about it.’