Conor Benn wants a big name on his burgeoning ledger, and he knows exactly whom he would like that to be.
The hard punching, rising British welterweight recently has not been shy about his desire to swap punches with a credible 147-pound contender for this next bout, possibly in July. Benn is coming off a 2nd-round demolition job of Chris van Heerden last month in Manchester, England, the latest victim in a string of over-the-hill contenders Benn has blown out.
Now, heeding public appetite, Benn is open to facing a slew of fresher, more dangerous opposition. At the top of his list is former welterweight titleholder Keith Thurman.
“That’s the one I want out of the lot,” Benn told IFL TV. “That’s the main fight, is Thurman, out of the whole bunch that I just mentioned. Great fighter. But I believe I’d be too much [for Thurman].”
A Thurman-Benn matchup would be appealing, but given that both are aligned with rival entities, it is unlikely a fight can be made. Thurman is backed by Al Haymon of Premier Boxing Champions, while Benn is promoted by Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing; Haymon and Hearn rarely do business together. Recently, Hearn went so far as to say in an interview with The MMA Hour that his relationship with PBC was “poor,” while criticizing the company’s seeming reluctance to make extramural fights between rivals.
Benn (21-0, 14 KOs) listed another crop of names, but as with Thurman, most of them are also aligned with Haymon’s PBC. The two exceptions are Maurice Hooker, a former Hearn client, and Jose Ramirez, the former junior welterweight champion who is promoted by Top Rank. Benn said he is leaving it in Hearn’s hands to deliver him a fight.
“Well, I’ve mentioned the names Keith Thurman, Danny Garcia, Mikey Garcia,” Benn told IFL TV. “I believe [Hearn] was reaching out to all of them. You’ve got Mario Barrios, you’ve got Hooker – but I ain’t interested in him. There were some other big names. Those were the teams he was going to be reaching out to…Jose Ramirez.”
Benn expects to return to the ring in early July. Thurman notwithstanding, he stated the opponent would be on a higher level than the van Heerdens of the sport – the kind that one would face in an eliminator bout. Citing the fact that Thurman fought Barrios in a WBC eliminator, Benn is hoping for a similar scenario for his next outing.
“I’d say the opponents you could fight as a final eliminator [are the ones I’m looking to fight next], Benn said. “Keith Thurman fought Barrios in a final eliminator for the WBC, so it could be a final eliminator, interim-name level. So that’s where we are sort of hovering about. But if they offer me a world title next, I’ll take it.”