IT was always going to be something of a freak show.
A fight between two boxers from different weight classes, who would never have attracted anything like such hype — or such hefty sums of cash — had it not been for the famous rivalry of their fathers.
But after Conor Benn failed a drug test, and his promoter Eddie Hearn insisted his scrap with Chris Eubank Jr would still go ahead at London’s O2 Arena on Saturday, that freak show descended into a sick joke.
The British Boxing Board of Control announced that, before the news of Benn’s failed test broke yesterday lunchtime, they had already informed both camps that the bout was prohibited.
Yet Hearn, Eubank’s promoter Kalle Sauerland and both boxers continue to claim the fight will go ahead — perhaps after a legal battle, perhaps under the jurisdiction of the boards of Luxembourg or Malta, perhaps as a bare-knuckle dust-up on the cobbles outside North Greenwich Tube station.
What a shameful, farcical day for the "noble" art.
Boxing is the most dangerous of sports, yet it has the fastest and loosest relationship with the anti-doping rules.
If a sprinter or weightlifter takes a banned substance, they may cheat their rivals but they will not endanger their lives.
Boxing is very different. And these men know only too well they are part of a lethal trade.
Nigel Benn, father of Conor, almost killed Gerald McClellan in the ring.
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Chris Eubank Sr almost killed Michael Watson in the ring. Eubank Jr almost killed Nick Blackwell in the ring as recently as 2016.
I’ve sat in a Brighton gym with the two Eubanks and asked them what it is like to almost kill a man, and how you can continue to box after such an experience.
It was one of the most chilling, though darkly fascinating, conversations I’ve ever had.
Eubank Sr, whose two epic fights with Benn Sr stopped the nation in the early 1990s, has refused to have anything to do with the promotion of Saturday’s fight, claiming he feared his son could suffer brain damage owing to the excessive weight loss to meet the 157lb catchweight limit.
Perhaps he knew, or suspected, that something was up.
Benn tested positive for clomifene, a banned substance which can increase testosterone levels.
He is an unbeaten welterweight. Eubank, a middleweight or super-middleweight, normally fights at a stone or half a stone heavier.
Catchweight fights already carry extra danger before you chuck in a failed drug test.
Yet with both fighters knowing they are never likely to get such a lucrative fight again, they claim the show will go on.
Sauerland and Hearn — another man trading off the name of a famous father, Barry — issued a statement which read: "The B Sample has yet to be tested, meaning no rule violation has been confirmed.
"Indeed, Mr Benn has not been charged with any rule violation, he is not suspended and he remains free to fight.
"Both fighters have taken medical and legal advice... and wish to proceed with the bout."
Love the use of "Mr Benn", by the way. It could not have got any more fantastical had, as if by magic, the shopkeeper appeared in a fancy-dress shop.
Only last week, Hearn pulled Josh Buatsi out of a light-heavyweight title eliminator with Jean Pascal, citing concerns over his prospective opponent having not signed up for Voluntary Anti-Doping Association testing.
This came after Hearn had lost a purse bid to stage that fight. Yet he wasn’t sounding so stringent on the whole anti-doping issue.
We should have expected nothing less, given the long and infamous list of boxers who have previously failed doping tests.
And while the BBBofC put on a rare show of "control" by refusing to sanction the fight, other boxing organisations were not having such a good day.
The International Boxing Association — who have a Russian president and are sponsored by Gazprom — lifted its ban on boxers from Russia and Belarus, having last week banned the Ukrainian federation.
Just another sewage storm in a festering cesspit of a sport.