By Elliot Foster, photo by Lawrence Lustig
Conor Benn came through hell and high water to keep hold of his unbeaten record.
The 21-year-old was knocked down twice in the opening round of six scheduled by Cedric Peynaud and it looked for all the world like he would lose his unblemished ledger.
But towards the back end of the fight, which was just a six rounder and Benn’s fifth of the year despite the fact he had the first half of the year off to recover from an injury, ‘The Destroyer’ rallied and was given the fight, on an average night, by a margin of 57 points to 54 by referee Bob Williams.
Benn went into the fight, at the York Hall in Bethnal Green, London, on the back of a dazzling US debut back in November on the Daniel Jacobs vs. Luis Arias undercard.
And he went from dazzling to flat in the space of just over a month, producing one of the worst displays of his career to date against the Frenchman, who quite clearly came over to cause the upset.
It was heart and guts, as well as what many believe to be the last knockdown, which got Benn the decision on a very questionable scorecard.
But he has vowed to return bigger and better in the New Year, despite being heralded as one of the most improved fighters of this year.
"It was a massive learning experience, but I'll come back from it and learn from it," he told Sky Sports afterwards.
"The only thing I showed in that fight is that I have heart and that I'll learn from this, I'm only young.
"I think I dealt with it alright. You cannot test heart, you've either got it, or you've not and I proved that I’ve definitely got it.
“I felt good in there in myself but I know I’ve got improvements to make and I will make them with [my coach] Tony [Sims] before I come back in 2018."