Conor Benn announced himself to the world as a serious contender as he blew away Samuel Vargas in just 80 seconds in London on Saturday night. He made what was supposed to be a tough test easy, at the Copper Box, and promptly called out Amir Khan, Shawn Porter and Adrien Broner.
The Conor Benn story has gone past being just the son of Nigel, the former two-weight world champion, but there were a lot of similarities between the pair based on this performance.
The man they used to call the Dark Destroyer used to bang opponents out quickly too. While Conor doesn’t have the one=punch power of his father, he has speed, accuracy, a fearsome attitude and loves a fight. He has a killer instinct too. When he hurt Vargas, he just didn’t let up. That could take him a long way.
“He was there to be hit, so I hit him,” Benn said. “I ain’t going to be shy, I ain’t going to hold back. If I see an opening, I’m going to take it. And I damn well took it.
“The power is developing. I ain’t even in my prime yet. You see all these other fighters, 28, 29, 30. I want to be retired by the time I am 30 with a few M’s in my bank account.
“I’m putting the Benn name back where it belongs and that’s on top. I am the best welterweight in the country without fail.”
Benn was throwing bombs from the start and, just 70 seconds in, a left jab and straight right seemed to stagger the Colombian. Benn was right on him, following up with three rights and then a left uppercut that landed flush on the chin.
There was to be no escape for Vargas, who was under fire on the ropes. Benn landed a right uppercut and then a heavy right hook that saw Vargas dip at the knees and caused Michael Alexander, the referee, to dive in to stop the fight.
The 24-year-old is one of the most improved boxers in Britain, but the way he dismantled Vargas was stunning. As well as power, the speed and accuracy of his shots was impressive. Vargas had shared the ring with four world champions, but none had blown him away the way Benn did. Vargas had hardly settled when Benn set about him, leaving him hurt and bemused.
“Statement made,” Benn said. “No one banged him out in one round. Easy. Give me a proper test, give me Amir Khan. I know he is busy on reality shows, but if he wants it, he can get it.”
The Colombian, who lives in Canada, had knocked Khan down before losing on points in a previous visit to Britain in 2018, but two more defeats, admittedly at a high level, in the intervening 29 months had dented the 31-year-old’s ambition.
But Benn had so far mixed in much lower circles and has spent much of his career so far on a steep learning curve having only had a handful of amateur bouts as a teenager in Spain.
“I don’t feel I have gained any experience in there tonight, apart from I can deal with the pressure,” Benn said. “I’m built for it. All this hype is no problem. I’m ready for the top dogs.
“I want to test myself. Forget all these other fighters calling me out, I couldn’t care less.
“I was expecting a hard fight tonight, 12 rounds, but I am always improving. I am the most rapid improved fighter global. I apply myself 100 percent and have faith in my team.”
Ron Lewis is a senior writer for BoxingScene. He was Boxing Correspondent for The Times, where he worked from 2001-2019 - covering four Olympic Games and numerous world title fights across the globe. He has written about boxing for a wide variety of publications worldwide since the 1980s.