Liam Smith didn’t hold back in a recent war of words with Conor Benn, bragging that he deprived the embattled 26-year-old welterweight of his “biggest fight.”
Liverpool’s Smith scored perhaps the sweetest win of his career in January when he stopped Chris Eubank Jr. in four rounds at AO Arena in Manchester. It was announced this week at a press conference in London that the two will “run it back”—per a contractual stipulation that only Eubank could activate—at the same venue on June 17.
That development has left the controversial Benn looking from the outside in. Benn is responsible for one of the biggest drug scandals to hit England in recent memory, as he tested positive twice last year for the banned performance-enhancing drug clomifene. The revelation of the second of two tests led to the cancellation of his scheduled 12-round, 157-pound catchweight bout with Eubank in October.
In recent weeks, Benn and his promoter Eddie Hearn were trying to re-engage Eubank about a fight to take place in June, possibly in Abu Dhabi, at the same time that Eubank was looking into a rematch with Smith. In the end, Eubank decided the Smith rematch was the greater priority. Looming over that decision was the fact that Eubank stood to be sanctioned by the British Boxing Board of Control if he moved forward with the Benn fight.
Benn is currently unlicensed in his native country and is unable to legally box there. Recently, he was formally charged for the failed drug tests by United Kingdom Anti-Doping, which has Benn under provisional suspension.
Smith did not waste time needling Benn on social media, asking why he hasn’t called him out to a fight.
“Bigger fights there for me, that’s why,” Benn responded in an Instagram story. “But you been calling my name. I never shy away from a no challenge !! Jumping up from 147-160lbs. The winner makes sense.
“Bigger fights?” Smith said. “I’ve just nailed your biggest fight. And [you’re] forgetting. I’m a 154. Ye, and neither do I (shy away from a challenge), as my whole career as shown. So shove these story’s up your ass, you wanna fight, let’s talk.
“That’s the only reason you’re relevant (laughing emoji),” Benn said. “Focus on winning your fight rather than mentioning my name and losing or you’ll become irrelevant AGAIN.”
“You forgetting getting dropped and wobbled everywhere by journey[men]?” Smith fired back. “Let’s not go there cos we all know the ONLY reason you’re relevant soft lad.”
Hearn has recently stated that Benn is likely to return on June 17, citing both the United States and the Middle East as possible locations.
Sean Nam is the author of the forthcoming book Murder on Federal Street: Tyrone Everett, the Black Mafia, and the Last Golden Age of Philadelphia Boxing.