Conor Benn embracing his father's legacy ahead of Chris van Heerden showdown

  • Tom Ward

Conor Benn sees his father’s legacy as a blessing not a curse.

Any time you read or hear anything about Benn, it’s become almost a requirement to mention the fact that he is the son of Nigel Benn – the British boxing legend who won world titles in two weight classes.

But that isn’t something that the younger Benn shies away from; in fact, he fully embraces it.

And while he still has some way to go before he comes close to matching his father’s successful career, he wants them both to be remembered for the same reason.

“In a sentence it would probably be, wow, those Benns could fight,” Benn exclusively told GiveMeSport.

“We gave the British public value for money every single time we stepped in the ring.

“Win, lose or draw, you want to tune into a Conor Benn fight.

“I think that’s so important because most fighters today just care about the win over the entertainment.

Conor Benn will face South African Chris van Heerden at the AO Arena in Manchester on April 16

“At the end of the day it’s the entertainment business. Our job is to entertain. We’re modern-day gladiators.

“I don’t even want to watch a boring boxing match, I actually don’t watch a lot of boxing, just for the simple fact that most of the fighters out there only do enough to get the win or they’re just boring to watch.

“People might think I’m vulnerable, but if I go down, I’ll get back up and I’ll knock them out.

“That’s just my mindset, that’s just my mentality, but I want the Benns to be remembered as a great value for money.

“That’s the only way I can describe it.”

Conor Benn, 25, is undefeated in 20 professional fights

The 25-year-old is the eldest child of the seven Benn children and the first to follow in their father’s footsteps.

“We have a friendly kind of rivalry,” he admitted.

“We were actually on FaceTime this morning, he goes, ‘You know son, you know that Mickey Mouse belt you’ve got…’

“I just started laughing. I said, ‘You’ve just got the hump because I won a title before you won a title’.

“I said, ‘I’m ranked in every governing body’s top five before you were ranked in every governing body’s top five’.

Conor Benn celebrates with his father Nigel after beating Chris Algieri

“And he goes, ‘Yeah, yeah, alright’.

“Nah man, listen, my dad’s a legend, and if I achieve half of what that man achieved, I’ll be blessed.

“My dad’s my idol, so I don’t look at it as I’ve got to get one up on him, or be better than him.

“Don’t get me wrong, it’d be nice if I was better than him, but he was one hell of a fighter and it’s a blessing to be in his shadow.”

Right now, Benn is a few days away from headlining a Matchroom show in Manchester where, in just his 21st professional fight, he will defend his WBA Continental welterweight title against former world champion Chris van Heerden next weekend.

Conor Benn trains at the Matchroom Elite Boxing Gym in Essex

Against Chris Algieri in December, Benn stepped up a level in competition and passed the test with flying colours.

Still, though, it wasn’t all that long ago that he was being unfairly criticised for receiving what some wrongly perceived as preferential treatment.

Asked if he would have any advice for his younger self, his answer was one of defiance.

“I’d say care less,” he answered.

“You might ask why I say that but it’s because I cared so much about other people’s opinions.

Conor Benn is coming off a win against Chris Algieri

“That was one thing that affected me up until about three or four years ago when I was younger.

“I don’t understand why people criticise me saying I’ve got a silver spoon in my mouth when I’m choosing to do the hardest sport in the world.

“How can you criticise me for doing that?

“I’m not living off my dad in Australia in his six bedroom mansion with his home cinema room and a swimming pool, I’m here grafting my nuts off, and people still wanted to give me s*** for it.

“So I struggled to deal with that.

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“But now it’s like who’s really winning at life, because now my son’s got his own mansion with his own pool that he can swim in off my own back, and that’s the way I’ve got to look at it.

“You’ve sort of got to become thick-skinned to it which is unfortunate because I don’t want to be that way.

“I get angry because it means a lot to me. I’m so passionate about what I do. When you see the rage and aggression after a fight, it’s because I pour my life into this.”

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