CONOR BENN stormed to an impressive comeback win but then admitted: “I feared for my future.”
The Essex fighter last stepped into the ring in April 2022 after his proposed dust-up with arch-rival Chris Eubank Jr. was canned last October following a failed drugs test.
Benn, 26, was cleared to return by the National Anti-Doping Panel in July even and blew off the cobwebs with a brutal, unanimous points win over tough Mexican Rodolfo Orozco.
But an emotional Benn told SunSport afterwards, with a tear in his eye, that “months of hell” had “killed him” and left him contemplating his career.
British Boxing Board of Control chief Robert Smith blasted before the 10-rounder in Orlando that Benn shouldn’t have been allowed back in the ring until he was cleared by all the regulators.
The BBBofC and VADA – who failed Benn twice in the lead-up to the original Eubank fight – both appealed his reinstatement.
But Brighton-based Benn, who tested positive for fertility drug clomifene, which is a banned substance, has always insisted his innocence.
He told SunSport:” I can’t begin to tell you how bad it’s been. It’s been hell.
“I didn’t think I was going to fight anymore and it killed me. It broke my heart so I am just over the moon to be back.” British boxing boss Smith says that Benn is still not cleared to fight in the UK, leaving the prospect of rescheduling the crunch with Eubank in the air for now.
Benn, though, lashed out at the doubters.
He added: “How can you tell me this isn’t politics, ego, or money when I’m just the one in the middle of it.
“The wrong questions are being asked but I’m willing to answer all the questions that need to be answered.
“You’ve got to remember this, it ain’t the truth. It’s not the truth. But what’s seen in darkness always comes to light, and clean hearts always win. I am hiding from nothing.”
This clash was a late addition to the card put on by Matchroom chief Eddie Hearn but Benn revealed the BBBofC did their best to scupper his return over the pond.
He explained: “It’s been really challenging to get to where I am now. There needs to be more care for British fighters with their own commission, their own governing body.” Benn was a class above Orozco, pummeling him with a series of crushing blows in a one-sided yet lively battle.
He looked razor sharp and was on the front foot straight from the off.
It was a testament to the Mexican’s heart that he was still standing at the end of 10 brutal rounds.
Benn knows the noise around a meeting with Eubank will only get louder.
But the son of the legendary Dark Destroyer, Nigel Benn, who was here in Florida, has been through so much just being able to fight another day is enough for now.
He said: “Whatever’s meant to be will be. I can’t do any more than I am.
“This is the card I’ve been dealt and it’s the card I’ve got to play, irrelevant of how it looks, how it’s pushed. I just do the best I can and try and stay in the best frame of mind, because it hasn’t been easy to stay in a good frame of mind.
“It’s been so hard, but I fought hard this fight, you know, I was down and out, I almost lost this fight. Almost lost. You know, I almost didn’t get back up. So, whatever happens, happens. And wherever doors open, open. And wherever doors shut, shut.
“This guy seemed a lot tougher than Eubank would. This was at 154 lbs and he was probably was at 165 lbs in the ring, so I’ll happily again come up to 160 lbs and smash Eubank.”