Eddie Hearn had hope for Conor Benn when he turned pro 6½ years ago, but his promoter couldn’t conceivably have known Nigel Benn’s son would’ve evolved into what he is today.
The younger Benn had a limited amateur career (20-2) and came from an affluent household, not typically the type of background that inspires boxers to reach the elite level of this unforgiving sport. Hearn did see some of Benn’s dad in him, however, enough similarities to think time, proper coaching and patient matchmaking might enable him to become a legitimate welterweight contender.
Now Hearn even thinks the smaller, less tested Benn (21-0, 14 KOs) can beat rival Chris Eubank Jr. (32-2, 23 KOs) in their 12-round, 157-pound grudge match Saturday night at O2 Arena in London.
“The one thing with Conor Benn is, even when he started as a pro, he was very, very limited, when he turned professional,” Hearn said during an interview posted to Matchroom Boxing’s YouTube channel Monday. “But you could see his dad in him. You could see the ferociousness. You could see the upper body movement. And when he let [his hands] go up against the ropes. And, of course, Eubank, you’ve always seen his father in him. From the jumping at the ropes, from the, you know, posing before the ring walk. So, the similarities are there in technique and in personality. And it’s just amazing to watch.”
The elder Eubank beat Nigel Benn by ninth-round technical knockout to win the WBO middleweight title in November 1990 at National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, England.
Their rematch resulted in a 12-round split draw in October 1993. That fight, which was contested for Benn’s WBC and Eubank’s WBO super middleweight titles, drew an announced crowd in excess of 42,000 to Old Trafford, Manchester United’s home stadium. Almost 29 years later to the day, Chris Eubank Jr. and Connor Benn will square off at a sold-out O2 Arena.
Hearn, perhaps caught up in the hoopla, suggested it is the biggest fight in British boxing history. Regardless, it’s a huge event in England and an admirable risk for Benn to have accepted.
“You keep asking yourself, ‘Can he do it? Have we made the right decision?’ And I really believe he can,” Hearn said. “I really believe he can go in and mix it with Chris Eubank Jr. at 157. Can he handle the power? Can he put a dent in Eubank Jr.? Can he out-box Eubank Jr.? How hard has Eubank Jr. really trained? How seriously has he taken this fight?”
DAZN will offer the Eubank-Benn card to its subscribers as a pay-per-view event in the United Kingdom and Ireland (£19.99). It’ll be streamed in the United States and most other countries and territories as part of DAZN’s annual and monthly subscriptions packages.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.