Conor Benn says he hopes he will get to box for the European title and get a world-title eliminator later this year and box for a world title in 2022.
The 24-year-old faces Samuel Vargas at the Copper Box in East London on Saturday in the latest step to what he hopes will be the chance to emulate his father, Nigel, by winning a world title.
Benn is unbeaten in 17 fights and, after beating Sebastian Formella in his biggest win in November, is now ranked No 11 by the WBA and No 14 by the IBF at welterweight.
The Formella win has opened up a world of possibilities, with fights against Kell Brook and Amir Khan being talked about if Benn beats the Canada-based Colombian.
“Touch wood I don't have an injuries and I can get out three or four times this year and potentially a world title eliminator at the end of the year,” Benn said. “A European title, the Amir Khans, the Kell Brooks. These are the sort of fights that I believe the public want.
“It’s a fantastic division, I think I’m in the top 15 in the IBF and the WBA, so I will do what I need to do with Vargas and push on from there. I believe a world title eliminator is something that could very possibly happen this year.
“I’ve just got to win a world title once, just once. Then I’ll be a very happy man.”
Benn showed another side of himself against Formella, but Vargas should provide a different challenge. He dropped Khan on a previous trip to Britain. He has also shared the ring with world champions Errol Spence, Danny Garcia and Luis Collazo.
“This is to see where we’re at,” Benn said. “He’s been in with the best fighters of our generation. He’s going to bring one hell of a fight but I believe I’ve got all the tools to put on a destructive performance which I believe I can do. I’m a contender and I’m constantly proving that.”
Ortiz lasted into the seventh round against -Vergil Ortiz in his last fight in July and argued with the stoppage. Benn hopes he can finish the job quicker than Ortiz.
“I saw Vargas doing that (arguing at the stoppage) and I am not sure I would like him doing the same to me,” Benn said. “Hopefully, I will have him out of there before then.
“It’s a tough challenge in front of me, he is a very credible opponent and I expecting a hell of a fight from Vargas.”
He has already outdone most expectations, though. Early on in his career, Benn will admit he was little more than a scrapper, with next to no defence, whose style was based purely on aggression. Not surprising, perhaps, considering his lack of amateur experience, but the improvements have come from hard work, even though there was a constant background of social media criticism.
“It was a massive challenge at first,” he said. “It was hard because I was young. But you become used to it and you are constantly growing year-in, year-out.
“You’re learning about this thing called life as well as boxing. It happens. You grow and you learn and you push forward.
With his surname and profile, it is to be expected that Benn has been a constant target of other British-based welterweights, who have enjoyed calling him out. Florian Marku, Michael McKinson and Chris Kongo are among those who have yelled for a fight with him, but he is not interested.
“Nothing they say would motivate me at all,” Benn said. “I’m so focused on what I’m doing, let them think what they want and say what they want. Why would I let what they say or think bother me?
“You’ve got Kongo calling me, just got beat by McKinson. I just believe it was always going to happen, I was always going to get called out. I’ve dealt with it from so early on in my career that it all just becomes normal.
“It is what it is, let them call me out. If they want to get personal, be aggressive, do what you want mate, it doesn’t bother me.
“I’m doing me, staying in my lane and I’m doing great. I'm doing better than anyone said I could’ve done. Let people call me out, it’s flattering.”
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.