These are challenging times for the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBofC). In Saudi Arabia this weekend, they will oversee a 10-round fight between an established heavyweight champion and a debutant.
The local government invited the Board to sanction the event, which will also include a British heavyweight title fight between Fabio Wardley and David Adeleye. Although the decision to accept the offer was not supported by everyone at the BBBofC, the presence of boxing licenses held by both fighters and the availability of Board-affiliated doctors for every contest ultimately led to the decision to proceed.
Some may argue that having the BBBofC involved is better than not having any governing body at all, as it ensures some level of safety. However, this decision also raises concerns about granting legitimacy to a mismatched main event. The World Boxing Council (WBC) will assign the referee and judges for the Fury-Ngannou fight, while BBBofC officials will oversee the rest of the bill.
Even though the BBBofC faced a difficult decision with financial implications, it is concerning that they approved a contest with such significant consequences. Eddie Hearn, who has had his own disputes with the Board, expressed disappointment and reaffirmed his commitment to staging the Eubank-Benn fight in the UK with or without their support.
If the Board sees Ngannou as a suitable opponent for Fury, Hearn’s argument that Eubank-Benn should be allowed to proceed unhindered gains strength. If the Board tries to block the fight due to concerns about Benn’s failed VADA tests, Hearn is likely to push forward regardless. The appeal for those test results is yet to be scheduled and will likely take place next year.
In the meantime, Hearn wants to finalize the lucrative Eubank-Benn showdown. If UKAD and the BBBofC succeed in their appeal and Benn once again faces suspension, Hearn will have already secured the financial benefits of the fight.
If the Board refuses to sanction Eubank-Benn, alternative options will be explored. The larger issue at hand, however, is the growing imbalance of power in the boxing industry, with promoters holding considerable control.