Development is key for young fighters, especially as their craft continues to grow. Sometimes, small steps need to be made to show just how far they have come compared to where they started.
Conor Benn believes he is ready for the spotlight, and opportunities may be coming sooner than he thinks.
Welterweight is one of the strongest divisions in boxing, with champions like Yordenis Ugas, Errol Spence Jr., and Terence Crawford, and young prospects climbing up the ladder. Benn, the 20-0 WBA continental welterweight champion, believes he is ready to face those elite fighters.
“I don’t believe I need a couple more fights, if they offered me Ugas next I would take that fight,” Benn told ESPN. “I know what I’m capable of and what I’ve been doing in the ring proves it. You have to remember it’s not just that I’ve beaten these opponents that I have but the ease and how I’m beating these opponents.”
“When you do the comparisons with the world champions they fought prior to me and I’m dealing better with them than they did so you can use that as a benchmark. I fancy my chances against any of them. I’ve defended my title six times now and I was ranked top-five before the Algieri fight so I should be top three with the majority of the governing bodies soon.”
Son of former champion Nigel Benn, 25-year-old Conor made his pro debut in 2016. Known for his explosive knockout power, 13 of his 20 wins have come via some form of KO. The competition Benn has faced has increased in quality over time: Sebastian Formella, Samuel Vargas, and Adrian Granados. In his last fight this past December, Benn demolished Chris Algieri with a fourth-round knockout.
When it comes to prospect status, Benn faces some stiff competition outside of the champions. There’s Jaron “Boots” Ennis, ranked high in the welterweight division by BoxRec and The Ring. He is 28-0 with one no-contest to his name and has 26 wins via KO.
There’s also knockout king Vergil Ortiz Jr., the WBO international welterweight champion. His last two fights have been against former champions and contenders; Maurice Hooker and Egidijus Kavaliauskas. The latter faced Crawford for the WBO title in 2019. All 18 of Ortiz’s wins have come via KO.
There are plenty of options for Benn, and Matchroom Boxing’s Eddie Hearn has ideas about who he could face. That includes Hooker and other former champions, such as Adrien Broner. The controversial former WBC lightweight and WBA welterweight champion “retired” in 2019 after losing to Manny Pacquiao, but returned in February 2021 and beat Jovanie Santiago.
“Broner would like a fight before because he is on a new crusade of seriousness where he wants to have one last run at it,” said Hearn. “He says he’s ready for Conor Benn, but wants to fight in March if possible. If not two names we like are Robert Guerrero and Maurice Hooker at The O2 [in London]. It will be one of those three names most likely.”
Guerrero last fought in August, beating Victor Ortiz via unanimous decision. He is a former IBF featherweight and interim WBC welterweight champion. Competing against a veteran, no matter their current status, can help shape a fighter, something Hearn and Benn believe can come from these matchups.
Benn believes his boxing IQ has improved, and while injuries have been an issue in the past, the prospect believes now is the time to show what he can do, no matter who the opponent is.