Confidence and ambition obviously aren’t issues for Conor Benn.
The son of British boxing legend Nigel Benn agreed to move up two weight classes to challenge Chris Eubank Jr. - in a fight still scheduled to take place on Saturday night at O2 Arena in London. This bold jump up for a 12-round, 157-pound fight with Eubank came as a surprise to those that have watched Benn developed into a legitimate welterweight contender, but Benn believes he’ll upset the son of his father’s bitter rival.
Benn also thinks he could compete with the two top welterweights in the sport, Errol Spence Jr. and Terence Crawford, at this stage of his six-year pro career. Both Crawford and Spence are commonly considered among the top five fighters, pound-for-pound, in boxing.
The 26-year-old Benn acknowledged their superior positions in the 147-pound division, but he is convinced he would belong in the ring with either fighter.
“I’ll take the fight all day long,” Benn told Gareth Davies for DAZN’s “Off The Cuff” segment produced to promote his showdown with Eubank. “I’ll take the fight all day long. I mean, they’re only human, ain’t they? I’ve got to a stage now where it really don’t bother me. At the end of the day, it’s very rare my back’s up against the wall. But when it is, you know, I fancy it.”
Spence and Crawford, of course, are engaged in seemingly never-ending negotiations for what would be a full title unification fight in the 147-pound division.
The 32-year-old Spence (28-0, 22 KOs), of DeSoto, Texas, holds the IBF, WBA and WBC welterweight titles. The 35-year-old Crawford (38-0, 29 KOs), of Omaha, Nebraska, owns the WBO 147-pound championship.
Benn has beaten veterans Sebastian Formella, Samuel Vargas, Adrian Granados, Chris Algieri and Chris van Heerden in his past five fights to make believers out of those that didn’t feel he would become a legitimate contender in the 147-pound division.
On Wednesday, it was revealed that Benn had tested positive for traces of a banned substance back in August. While the British Boxing Board of Control have prohibited the bout from taking place - at the moment the fight is still going forward as planned - as promoter Eddie Hearn and his legal team are working around the clock to keep the event intact.
Benn is an underdog against Eubank because his 33-year-old opponent will own a significant size advantage should they meet in what has been a heavily hyped grudge match in England. Brighton’s Eubank (32-2, 23 KOs) has fought only as a middleweight or a super middleweight in nearly 11 years as a pro, whereas Ilford’s Benn (21-0, 14 KOs) has never officially weighed in at more than 148½ pounds for a professional fight.
Provided the event goes forward, DAZN will stream the Eubank-Benn card as a pay-per-view event in the United Kingdom and Ireland (£19.99). The show headlined by Eubank and Benn will be made available as a part of DAZN’s annual and monthly subscription packages in the United States and most other countries and territories in which DAZN can be streamed.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.