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Who Should Conor Benn Face Next?

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Unbeaten Welterweight Prospect Conor Benn (21-0) delivered another sensational knockout when he viciously dispatched South-African Southpaw Chris Van Heerden in just two rounds. After a high-action first, Benn closed the distance quickly in the second and loaded up on that right hand catching Van Heerden clean on the ropes.

From Benn in the ring to his promoter to Carl Froch on the broadcast, there is no doubt he must take a big step-up next after 5 successive quality wins. So Here’s 8 names previously mentioned around Conor Benn and my #1 Pick.

Adrien Broner

Four-weight world champion and major American draw Adrien Broner’s name has been mentioned by Promoter Eddie Hearn as a potential opponent for Benn. Showtime’s Stephen Espinoza recently stated they were in the works for Broner’s next fight on their platform and with the amount of money Broner wants, I think we can make this option unlikely.

Kell Brook

Former IBF Welterweight Champion and long-time Matchroom fighter Kell Brook made an offer to fight Conor Benn in late February/early March. Hearn claimed he offered Brook similar money to what he was getting for Khan reportedly $3.5m but Brook asked for a ridiculous £10m.

Brook now looks like he is going to fight Eubank in September although this option may be able to be revisited if Brook is interested in the fight, albeit unlikely.

Ekow Essuman

British and Commonwealth Welterweight champion, defend his title against Darren Tetley at York Hall live on BT Sport. Would allow Benn to undoubtedly say he’s past domestic level and beat a fellow upcoming contender who is also hungry, unbeaten, and coming to win.

The problem with this is that Essuman isn’t a name at all stateside, which is a key market for DAZN. His UK profile isn’t massive either and is headlining at York Hall instead of his hometown of Nottingham. There are serious questions about whether a Benn vs Essuman fight could sell out Nottingham Arena and do any better numbers on DAZN UK than Van Heerden.

David Avanesyan

Current European Welterweight Champion, Armenian David Avanesyan has been constantly mentioned by hardcore boxing fans and Team Avanesyan as a ‘dangerous test’ for Benn and one that he should take next. Benn is definitely above domestic level but beating Avaneysan would have completed European and fringe world level.

Team Benn claims Avanesyan’s drawing power does not represent his level of risk with Hearn claiming Avaneyan’s last fight only sold 400 tickets and drew 6k viewers on BT Sport. Promoter Hearn claims that this is not a big fight outside of the boxing bubble, especially in the United States, and therefore not a preferable option.

Despite this, Avanesyan is a legitimate top 15 welterweight and a proper test for Conor Benn. Should they not get a massive name they should definitely fight Avanesyan as he is also highly ranked in multiple governing bodies and his European title would give Benn plenty of credibilities, plus there will be no love lost in that buildup.

Michael McKinson

Unbeaten Matchroom signed Portsmouth Welterweight Michael McKinson from the outside seems like an obvious choice for Benn. Not only is he ranked top 3 in the world in the WBO but he is also a domestic foe and with the same promoter. Furthermore, he would be more than willing to take that fight.

However, the problem with Michael McKinson is probably the name draw. McKinson has boxed on Sky Sports Box Office and DAZN UK and made his American debut last time out meaning his profile is growing but it is not that significant yet and unfortunately it may be a fight people struggle to get interested in due to the style of McKinson.

Despite this, McKinson is an easy-to-make, domestic fight. He is an unbeaten fighter on the way up, a consensus top 20 welterweight, and possesses a tricky style to which finding the answers should give a lot of confidence to the public about Benn’s ability. Furthermore, he is not a puncher which seems to be another thing the Conor Benn matchmaking has carefully navigated.

Mikey Garcia

4-Weight World Champion Mikey Garcia has a name that transcends his home city. He is famously known in the world of boxing and draws major crowds and attention to his fights. Garcia lost a unanimous decision to Barcelona’s Sandor Martin in a case of terrible matchmaking from Team Garcia where Martin was just stylistically all wrong for Garcia.

Even after coming off of 2 defeats in 3 fights, he would be a big step up for Benn and a major name. Benn would also be getting him at the right time of his career. This is a fight that does well in both London and Hispanic populated cities such as California/Texas/San Diego. It could also be ideal for Benn’s US Debut.

Alexis Rocha

The Sole defeat of Golden Boy Prospect Alexis Rocha’s career comes to Rashidi Ellis in 2020. Since then he has come through loud-mouthed Blair Cobbs in a late-change DAZN USA main event in his last fight and does indeed fulfill the US name they were after. 

Rocha is a fighter on the way up and a dangerous test for Benn, one that if he beats he could be called a top 10 welterweight. Rocha is definitely a strong option for Benn, the only problems here would be the finances and dealing with Golden Boy who is on the same platform but could be reluctant to make the fight.

Maurice Hooker

Finally, we move on to former 140-pound champion, Texan Maurice Hooker. Hooker was with Matchroom as a world champion and lost his title to Jose Ramirez in a 2019 summer unification fight on DAZN. Since then he has had two more fights on the DAZN platform, including a stoppage loss to Rising contender Vergil Ortiz Jr in the spring of 2021.

Hooker has not boxed since. Although he would be Benn’s toughest opponent to date. It’s another case of an inactive fighter on the way down and would be a step-up but met with ample criticism. Hooker is a fight they can definitely make and did so for April 16 before Hooker sustained an injury; therefore he should be a reserve option.

My #1 Pick

My #1 Pick to face Conor Benn next is David Avanesyan. Benn is ranked in the top 5 in all 4 governing bodies. Avanesyan is #2 in the WBC, and Benn-Avanesyan Fight should be a final eliminator with Thurman declining it, Ennis going the IBF Route, and Ortiz’s future at 147 unknown. A win over Avanesyan would not only satisfy the fans, but make him a legitimate top 10 welterweight and is the perfect next fight for Benn.

By Darshan Desai

Also, read: Ben Whittaker, Tokyo 2020 Olympic Silver Medalist Signs Promotional Deal

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