By Jim Calfa: Eddie Hearn wants unbeaten welterweight contender Conor Benn to face Adrien Broner next, followed by Shawn Porter before battling for a world title at the end of 2022.
(Photo credit: Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing)
Benn’s fourth round knockout win over Chris Algieri last Saturday night has promoter Hearn in ecstasy, believing that he’s got a future world champion. Algieri has never been a welterweight, and he was never one of the elite fighters at 140.
Chris was briefly a belt-holder at light welterweight after beating WBO 140lb champion Ruslan Provodnikov in 2014.
The likely reality is Benn is a good beating old guys well past their prime on the verge of retirement, but the wheels will fall off if Hearn makes the mistake of putting him in with a quality welterweight that is still in the primes of their careers.
Shawn Porter to be lured out of retirement
Hearn says he hopes to lure the former IBF/WBC welterweight champion ‘Showtime’ Porter (31-4-1, 17 KOs) out of retirement to fight the unbeaten Benn (20-0, 13 KOs) in the second half of 2022 to be the last hurdle to prepare him to fight for a world title at the end of the year.
Porter, 33, recently retired following his tenth round knockout loss to WBO welterweight champion Terence Crawford on November 20th in Las Vegas. Shawn was competitive with Crawford until getting dropped twice in the tenth, causing his dad to throw in the towel.
Picking Porter as an opponent to get Benn prepared for a world title shot against welterweight champions Crawford, Errol Spence, or Yordenis Ugas makes a lot of sense.
But it likely won’t help Benn one bit for him to face Adrien Broner because he’s too past it to help Benn prepare himself for those champions. Broner isn’t a genuine welterweight, and he’s never looked good at 147 since moving up to the weight class in 2013.
It’s believed that Matchroom Boxing wants to set up a title fight between Benn and WBA champion Yordenis Ugas in late 2022 because he’s the weakest link among the welterweight champions. However, Spence also wants to fight Ugas, and he’ll likely get to him first.
Eddie raves about Benn’s performance
“If you want to be a star, you have to put in star performances, and that was a star performance,” said promoter Eddie Hearn to iFL TV on Conor Benn’s win over a washed Algieri last Saturday night.
“There will be people that still think he’s there because of his old man,” said Hearn on Conor being given attention due to his famous father, Nigel Benn.
“He got opportunities because of his dad, but he walked through those doors, and he worked harder than anybody else, and the improvements that he’s made are incredible.
“He said to me, ‘Are you saying I’m not top five.’ I didn’t say that, but he’s got so much passion, and I love it, and he’s a star. We had nearly seven thousand here tonight, a great crowd, and he’s from Milford. We had four weeks to sell this show, so fair play to Conor Benn.
“Now, he’s a world welterweight contender. It’s one of the most amazing rises in ability, and he deserves all the praise.
“Going through the pandemic, he [Conor] has gone Vargas, Formella, Granados, Algieri,” Hearn said.
It would be a good idea for Hearn to temper his enthusiasm for Benn until he proves himself against quality welterweights.
Benn’s wins over the old-timers Algieri, Adrien Granados, Samuel Vargas, and Sebastian Formella aren’t good win victories to prove anything.
Porter and Broner are too well past it to show whether Benn is ready to take on one of the champions at 147. What Hearn needs is to run Benn through the following gauntlet and see if he’s still in one piece afterward before considering setting up a title shot for him next year:
- Jaron Ennis
- Vergil Ortiz Jr.
- Danny Garcia
- Keith Thurman
- David Avanesyan
Conor will be ready for a world title after two fights
“It’s a nice run, but there are a couple of levels to go before he fights for a world title. I know he wants it now, but I just would like to do it in the right way, and they will be great fights,” said Hearn.
“It’s all down to [trainer] Tony [Sims] and Conor. If there’s a world title there, I’m in,” said Hearn.
“I just think he’s that special of a fighter that he’s improving all the time that if we give him two, he’ll be ready, and if we give him one, he might not be ready.
“So, two fights is six months in the career of Conor Benn. He’s still a young man, and he’s 20-0, but what talent, what a star, and how exciting.
“You know I wanted that fight bad, but they don’t want the young smoke,” said Hearn when asked if Amir Khan is one of the two possible fights for Benn before he challenges for a world title in 2022.
If Hearn really wants to prepare Benn to challenge for a world title in 2022, he should scrap his idea of putting him in with Broner and Porter. Instead, he should match Benn against Jaron Ennis and Vergil Ortiz Jr.
If Benn can beat those guys, he’ll be ready to fight for a world title next year.
Hearn wants Porter to fight Benn in 2022
“I don’t blame Amir for not wanting to fight Conor and Ennis and Vergil Ortiz,” said Hearn. They’re horrible, violent kids, but the winner of that fight [between Khan and Kell Brook], but they’re not going to fight until September or so.
“The Broner fight is a great fight for the O2,” said Hearn. “Will Shawn Porter come out of retirement for one more in the UK? We’ll see. But they’re the kind of levels now we need to look for [in matching Benn before he challenges for a world title].
“When you look at stars in British boxing and look at people that can fill arenas, yes, you’ve got Dillian, and we’ve sold loads of tickets next week for Chisora – Parker, and you got Fury and AJ.
“But outside of them, who are the guys that are filling arenas, and Conor is one of the ones that can. So, I’d like to keep him in the UK, but I won’t turn down a big fight in America as well,” Hearn said of Benn.
Money-wise, it makes sense for Hearn to put together fights for Benn against the faded former champions Broner and Porter, but whether those contests prepare him to unseat the 147-lb champions Errol Spence, Terence Crawford, and Yordenis Ugas is debatable.
Hearn says Benn “brutalized” Algieri
“It’s very rare to have an arena standing up and clapping when a guy is making someone miss, but what they saw tonight was a world-class welterweight,” said Hearn to Boxing Social on Conor Benn.
“I know he was a favorite tonight against Algieri, but to go in there and brutalize him with a knockout, that’s how you become a star. That’s watched by millions of people around the world.
“You don’t become a star by going in and fiddling around for 12 rounds and boring people to sleep. You go in by putting in a performance like that.
“He said to me in the changing room afterward, ‘I didn’t have any nerves,’ said Hearn in recalling a conversation he had with Benn after last Saturday’s fight with Algier. “”That’s because you’re getting used to being in this environment.’
“When you’re composed, you can put in performances like that, and it was a fantastic performance.
“I love the Broner fight,” said Hearn when asked who he wants to match Conor Benn against next. “I think he’s [Broner] great, I think he’s hilarious, and I think he’s a big draw,” said Hearn.
It wasn’t until Algieri made the amateurish mistake of backing up against the ropes that Benn could land anything significant in the fight. Before that, he wasn’t dominating the match. It was competitive.
Benn would stop Khan like he did Algieri
“You know, I would have loved the Khan fight, but I don’t believe anyone believes Amir Khan could beat Conor Benn. If Conor Benn hit Amir Khan, you’d see exactly the same that happened to Algieri tonight. One-shot, that’s all it takes, it’s over, that fight.
“Amir, they don’t want the young smoke. Vergil Ortiz, Boots Ennis, and I even start to put Conor Benn in that category now, and those guys are tremendous fighters.
“I think Conor is one fight away from that bracket, but horrible, spiteful, big punches and devastating punches that want to go in and do damage. They’re horrible to fight, and Conor is right up there with them,” said Hearn.
Benn probably would knockout Amir Khan, but it’s unlikely that Hearn will be able to put that fight together.
Khan has no interest in fighting Benn, and he’s got a big enough fortune estimated at $40 million that Hearn won’t lure him unless he throws crazy money at him.
It’s fair to say that Khan won’t take the fight with Benn unless he’s offered a payday between 10-15 million. I’d say Khan will likely want $15 million for the Benn fight, which Hearn will never give him.