Conor Benn Remains Unbeaten in Manchester

Conor Benn Remains Unbeaten in Manchester

It was always going to be a hard sell. The alleged step-up, facing his first southpaw was largely the big selling point, probably the only one, that in itself was telling to the kind of fight we would get.

It was quick, explosive and way too predictable. Conor Benn did what was expected, probably a little quicker than most pundits imagined, but he badly needs a true test and not one that is hidden behind the promotional PR machine he has behind him.

Benn now 21-0, dispatched the veteran South African Chris van Heerden in Manchester with some ease in two rounds. It was portrayed as another acid test by some, in reality it was anything but.

The opponent was once a good fighter, and somewhere near his prime he would have given Benn the test the British prospect desires and badly needs. But the prime is long gone, largely inactive with just a few minutes of ring time in nearly three years, Benn was always going to do a demolition job on van Heerden, anyone who says different clearly don’t know how boxing works. Or they are lying.

The opening round was reasonably competitive, and to his credit van Heerden was here to fight, before Benn bludgeoned him to defeat in the following round. Benn was impressive, and did his job in some style and literally could be anything. But we need to find out just how good he is. Benn could be a superstar, but his recent fights have done little to elevate him to that status.

There are fights at British and European level he could take. Ones he should take. Despite words to the contrary, he hasn’t yet outgrown that level. Skipped and outgrown are two different things.

Boxing doesn’t work in straight lines. The problem is the fights he hasn’t had in his apprenticeship will likely come back to haunt him when the true acid test arrives. His father had his wake up moment against Michael Watson all those years ago. The son will do wise to learn from that night.

Amir Khan was ringside and was brought into the ring post-fight to share the stage with the winner. This observer, hopes that’s the last time they share a ring together. Khan should retire, and thoughts of putting him in a ring with Benn seriously need to be revisited. It would be an awful shameless match-up that neither Benn or Khan need for different reasons. Boxing doesn’t need it either.

Make no mistake Khan was there for a reason, Benn vs Khan won’t be next, but expect it before the year ends. The hope is those close to Khan tell him what he needs to hear and not what he wants to hear. And then he listens. I won’t hold my breath on either.

It was a strange night, musical chairs in press row, a baffling discussion behind me that consisted of how long a rest female fighters have after each round. Alycia Baumgardner after her impressive win over Terri Harper, gets rewarded with a throwaway last minute defence of her world super-featherweight title against Edith Soledad Matthysse that took place before a six rounder involving Campbell Hatton. Maybe the lads behind me can be excused for their lack of insight. Matchroom have done much for women’s boxing but this wasn’t their finest hour.

Chris Billam-Smith settled any lingering arguments with Tommy McCarthy with his 8th round stoppage in their rematch. It looked beforehand to be the only pure fight on the card and so it proved.

It wasn’t the best Matchroom card of recent times, but it delivered a little more than it promised or deserved, and they just about got away with it. Benn and Baumgardner will hope for better next time.

Photo Credit: Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing

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