ORLANDO – Conor Benn had to take a deep breath as he prepared to relive it all.
The undefeated boxer was seated next to his father and former two-division champion Nigel Benn when the question was posed of the long road that led to his ring return. The younger Benn hadn’t fought since last April and has spent nearly the past year attempting to prove his innocence in an ongoing drug testing scandal.
Another step was taken in the healing process as Benn outpointed durable Mexican junior middleweight Rodolfo Orozco over ten rounds Saturday evening at Caribe Royale Orlando in Orlando, Florida. The unbeaten welterweight contender moved up in weight and walked away with a clear-cut win, though he also suffered a cut just over his right eyelid and favored his hip when he attempted to walk around his dressing room.
None of that compared to the dark places he and his family were taken to dating back the fallout from his canceled clash with fellow second-generation boxer Chris Eubank Jr. last October.
“I keep going back to the year-and-a-half I had,” Benn told BoxingScene.com and an intimate group of U.K. reporters in response to a question posed by Boxing Social’s Charlie Parsons. “People want to skip adversity; they want to skip letdowns and the lows. But that’s where character is built.
“For me, it’s like, what can another man do to me? You get in that ring, what can another man do to me that I already didn’t have to deal with, that I didn’t have to fight with inside my head every single day?”
Benn (22-0, 14KOs) fought in the U.S. for just the second time in his well-publicized career. The stateside return nearly six years after his previous appearance came as a necessity to move forward with his career.
While he can fight nearly anywhere around the world he remains without a license in the U.K. The British Boxing Board of Control (BBBofC) and United Kingdom Anti-Doping (UKAD) appealed a July 28 ruling handed down by the National Anti-Doping Panel (NADP) to lift the provisional suspension handed down from his positive drug tests for the banned substance Clomiphene which caused the cancellation of the Eubank bout.
Benn’s year-long effort to clear his name has come at a financial and emotional cost. Nigel, 59, admitted earlier this year that he was drinking wine a half-bottle at a time every night and mixing it with his medication. The younger Benn confessed that he was right there with his father in a very dark place.
“I wish we didn’t have to go through it,” Benn said. “I just wish we didn’t have to go through it all, for me, for my family and the time. There’s nothing you can really do. I’m just happy to be here now, for me, for my team and for my family. I’m happy to overcome this.
“You don’t know what stage is… I just couldn’t go on living another day with this. I was scared to go to sleep at night. I was in a bad way. I’m happy to be here now. I’m happy to be over this and glad we got this win.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox