This Saturday night in Manchester, Conor Benn will defend his WBA Continental welterweight title against Chris van Heerden. It’ll serve as the 21st professional fight of the 25-year-old’s career and if all goes well, he’ll get the platform he needs to try and reach the next level in this sport.
For a long time now Benn has been heralded as one of the next big things at welterweight and the analysis of his work would be ‘so far, so good’. However, if he wants to reach the upper echelons of this sport, he needs to move forward in a notable way – and the majority of boxing fans would agree with that.
Alas, it’s never a good idea to overlook someone and that’s particularly true for van Heerden, as Eddie Hearn noted when being questioned over the future of ‘The Destroyer’.
“van Heerden is a very tough, very game, technically sound fighter, who will be there as long as he can be there,’ Hearn explained. ‘It will be a tremendous fight.
“You need southpaw experience when you talk the likes of Jaron Ennis, Errol Spence – all these great fighters. You can’t just jump into your first-ever southpaw being Errol Spence or these kinds of guys.”
“van Heerden, his last fight was against Jaron Ennis, on Showtime, in Ennis’ 26th fight. And for me, Jaron Ennis may be the best welterweight in the world.
“Now people are saying this is an easy fight for Conor Benn. I’m like, wow, now you rate him. A year ago people were saying he’s overhyped but now people genuinely rate him.
“This will be his last little test before he jumps in with a Kell Brook, a Mikey Garcia, Danny Garcia, an Adrien Broner, a Keith Thurman – one of those elite names.”
The journey so far for Conor Benn
Up to this point in his career, Benn has been able to string together an unbeaten 20-0 record. He’s won 13 of those by knockout and seven by decision, but if he really wants to try and take off, a big statement is required at the AO Arena this weekend.