Eddie Hearn admitted he has little interest in putting Conor Benn in with either European welterweight champion David Avanesyan or WBA “regular” champion Eimantas Stanionis, as the pair are just not well known enough.
After Benn disposed of Chris Van Heerden in emphatic style in Manchester on Saturday night, he reeled off a series of possible opponents including Adrien Broner, Mikey Garcia, Danny Garcia and Keith Thurman, a list that notably lacked Avanesyan, the England-based Russian and Stanionis, of Lithuania.
“Really good fighters, zero profile,” Hearn said. “They think I am being rude, but I’m not, I am giving them the credit of saying ‘really good fighters’. If you have Stanionis, Avanesyan and Mikey Garcia, they are all the same level and Mikey Garcia pays you three times more than Stanionis and Avanesyan, what are you going to do?
“We don’t have a problem looking at those fights, but it’s risk-reward. F--- the regular titles, because if you win the regular title [people say] ‘you’re not a real world champion’. I love Gilberto Mendoza and he has messaged me tonight saying ‘we want Conor Benn to be our guy and fight for our world title’.
“Stanionis for the WBA regular title is a really tough fight and you won’t even get the credit of being called a world champion. So, you might as well go and fight Errol Spence or Terence Crawford.
“If I did Stanionis at the O2 we would sell 5,000 tickets, or what about we fight Adrien Broner and we sell 20,000 tickets and he makes a couple of million quid?
“That’s what we want to see. You’ve got to let me play the game.”
Benn’s brutal finish against Van Heerden ensures that no one will be taking the job without being well paid. Indeed, Hearn claims that Brook asked for £10 million to face Benn and is happy to box Chris Eubank Jr for far less.
“They are looking at him and thinking ‘he’s a f-------, horrible, spiteful muthaf-----’,” Hearn said.
A few hours after Benn beat Van Heerden, Spence unified the WBC, WBA and IBF versions of the world welterweight title as he stopped Yordenis Ugas in front of nearly 40,000 fans in Texas. But there seems little prospect of Benn being put in with a Spence or a Crawford soon.
Tony Sims, his trainer, is the one keeping the brakes on for now, but after the job he has done so far.
“It doesn’t matter what I say,” Hearn said. “I can tell you fights that will fill the O2 and pay Conor Benn a load of money, but [Sims] will be the one who says ‘yes’ or ‘maybe in one more fight’.”
Benn said he did not expect a fight with Amir Khan to happen. Khan, who was watching at ringside, was invited into the ring at the end and Benn was hopeful that the former unified world super-lightweight champion would agree to face him.
Despite being put on the spot, though, Khan did not say yes. So, will it happen?
“I don’t think so,” Benn said. “He’s done what he needed to do. I saw a few articles saying that he fancied a fight with me, so I thought we would get him in there to express those feelings, which weren’t there.
“It’s fine. I’m on a different trajectory in my career and the only way is up. I’ll fight anyone who is put in front of me.”
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.