Conor Benn felt that he needed to send a message to his most demonstrative rival.
The British welterweight caused a stir this past weekend when he engaged in a brief shoving match with countryman Kell Brook during the undercard of the 140-pound women’s title bout between champion Chantelle Cameron and Katie Taylor in Dublin, Ireland.
The scuffle started after Benn apparently elbowed his way past Brook, who was in the middle of being interviewed. The two simultaneously pushed each other, prompting security to quickly intervene before the fracas could escalate.
Benn and Brook have lately been linked to a potential fight, despite the fact that Benn is currently still dealing with the ongoing repercussions of his two positive tests for a banned performance-enhancing drug in October. Brook retired last year but has repeatedly hinted at a comeback.
In an interview shortly after the encounter, Benn said he was compelled to get in Brook’s face because of the way Brook has spoken about him to the press.
“Obviously, he’s been talking the most, saying he wants to fight, that he’s gonna teach this kid a lesson, but yeah, it don’t float with me like that,” Benn told Boxing Social. “I just said to him, ‘stay retired, mate, stay retired. You’ll get hurt messing with me.’”
“It’s personal when you lay your hands on me like that,” Benn continued. “It’s personal. Let’s handle this in the ring. I wanted the fight two years ago.
“I stop him within two rounds, two rounds,” Benn continued. “ I don’t care what Kell Brook has left [in the tank], I stop him in two rounds.”
Last month, Benn was formally charged by United Kingdom Anti-Doping for a doping violation and has also been under provisional suspension by the organization since mid-March.
Despite his unresolved status, Benn has been working hard to make his return to the ring this summer, with names such as Manny Pacquiao reportedly in the running to face the embattled fighter. Benn’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, has floated June as a working date for his client.
“If you choose to fight me, it’s your death wish,” Benn said, speaking about Brook. “That’s it, period. It’s your death wish. If you think you fancy your chances, when I hit you you’ll know about it.
“When you’re 154 or 160, when I hit you, you’ll know about it. All these old men keep calling me out—you lot should stay retired. Listen, I’ll beat ‘em easy, and cash in lovely. Do you know what I mean? If they want it, they can get it. I ain’t gonna turn down former world champions. Every world champion was once a contender. It’s how you beat those former world champions, and I’ve beaten them convincingly.”
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.