Luther Clay: “I’d Fight Conor Benn Tomorrow, This Week, This Year – Any Time!”
After turning the page on a whirlwind opening chapter in the paid ranks, welterweight prospect Luther Clay (11-1, 5 KO’s) returns to the more familiar surroundings of Bracknell Leisure Centre on Saturday evening. ‘The Black Panther’ takes on the undefeated Ohio kain Iremiren (4-0) at the top of an action-packed bill labelled the ‘Boxing Summer Ball’, which will be shown live and exclusively in the UK on the Boxing Social YouTube and Facebook platforms.
Though headlining a broadcasted bill on Saturday evening, the pro journey has not always been so straightforward for Clay. After amassing limited amateur experience, the South Africa-born up-and-comer turned his attention to professional boxing back in 2016. The 23-year-old, though now noted for plying his trade in Bracknell, was not shy of travelling to wherever necessary to secure a fight.
Under the guidance of Siesta Boxing, Clay made his debut in Riga, Latvia on a bill that saw world-class cruiserweight Mairis Briedis secure the nineteenth victory of his career before an elated crowd. The debutant’s opening slot was a world away from the razzmatazz that followed when hometown hero Briedis made his way into the ring, but the ‘any place, any time’ attitude of the South African talent made for an array of unique experiences fighting across Europe.
Regardless of tasting the sole defeat of his career against Russia’s teak-tough Vazir Tamoyan in Georgia just shy of two years ago, Clay remains unfazed about where he laces up his gloves.
“I’ve never really cared about where I’ve fought,” He said. “I don’t care whether I’m fighting at home or away – the crowd doesn’t play a part in how I fight. I just need to get in the ring and do what I need to do. What’s going on outside of that won’t make me do more or less.”
‘The Black Panther’ has notched up six straight victories since his points loss in Georgia – including an impressive points win against Danny Craven on the George Groves vs. Chris Eubank Jr undercard in Manchester. The European tour appears to have came to an end – for now – as Clay eyes up his fourth successive outing in the more homely setting of Bracknell Leisure Centre.
An inconvenient late opponent change has left the 23-year-old facing Britain’s undefeated Ohio Kain on Saturday evening, and though Clay admits he was at first thrown off by the last-minute change-up, he still believes he is destined for bigger and better things. He said:
“I was thrown off at first [by the change], but it’s just one of them things. I had to either take the fight or pull out, and there was no way I was going to do that. I’d been sparring a different kind of style, so I’ll just have to adapt on the night and see what he brings. I’ve watched some footage of his fight with William Warburton – but I didn’t really take much from it. I’m going to just go in there and deal with him on the night.
I’ve been told that should I win this fight, there’ll be some sort of title on the line in my next contest. That’d be great to win a belt, and hopefully move up the rankings. I’ve always focused on getting the rounds and the experience. When I’ve got that experience and I feel comfortable, I’d love to go for a British title. If that doesn’t happen, then I want to be able to get ranked by an organisation.”
Elsewhere on the welterweight scene, Conor Benn recently overcame former European title challenger Jussi Koivula in a two-round firefight. Benn met Koivula’s lightning start head-on before disposing of the Finland native in the 2nd round. Talk of domestic a dust-up with Sunderland’s Josh Kelly lingers, though Clay was far from enthused by talk of that all-British bout.
“Conor had a very limited amateur background like myself,” He said. “They’re matching him very well to look exciting. He can hit hard, quite clearly – but he’s fighting guys that have been stopped before and looked way past their best.
“Until he really fights a good gatekeeper who’s never been stopped, or a decent prospect it’s hard to gauge him. You can’t say where he’s at. I don’t even know why people entertain him fighting Josh Kelly. He’s nowhere near that level.
“I understand it’s about building a domestic super-fight, but we know there’s Southern area level fighters that would smoke Conor Benn.
“I’ve said multiple times that we’d love that fight. Now, this year, this week – whatever. It doesn’t matter. I’d fight him – not just because it’s a money fight, but because he’s very beatable.
“People like Josh Kelly are worth money, but not everybody is lining up to fight him. Why? Because he’s clearly quite good. If you’ve got a name, though, people are going to want to fight you. People see holes in Conor Benn.”
Luther Clay vs Ohio Kain comes as part of a huge night of action at the Boxing Summer Ball at Bracknell Leisure Centre, promoted by Al Siesta’s Siesta Boxing in association with Melhus Promotions.
Saturday’s card will be shown live and exclusively in the UK on the Boxing Social YouTube and Facebook platforms.