Eddie Hearn remains confident that he can land a top assignment for his swaggering charge Conor Benn. (photo by Ryan Hafey)

Hearn, the head of Matchroom Boxing, has been vocal about finding an elite opponent for Benn, the hard-hitting welterweight charge from Essex, England, ever since Benn starched Chris van Heerden inside two rounds in April at Manchester Arena in Manchester.

The Van Heerden win signified perhaps the end of Benn’s recent spate of squashing respected, but largely over-the-hill, veterans. Sensing some impatience from the public, Hearn immediately declared that Benn’s next fight would come against a top American welterweight contender/former champion. The name that soared to the top of his list was Keith Thurman, a former titlist at 147 and longtime divisional fixture.  

In a recent interview, Hearn doubled down on his preference for Thurman, while downplaying the potential for Benn to face his countryman, the middleweight contender Chris Eubank Jr., saying that Benn’s focus is squarely on the welterweight division.

“We want the Keith Thurman fight,” Hearn reiterated to Pro Boxing Fans. “I’ve had a million questions today about Conor Benn against Chris Eubank Jr. We’re not in final negotiations about that fight. It’s a fight that always gets brought up because, of course, it’s one of the biggest fights of all time, but right now we’re focused on the welterweight division and hopefully that will be Keith Thurman.”

A Benn-Thurman fight is unlikely, however, as Thurman is backed by Al Haymon, the creator of Premier Boxing Champions, an entity that does not do much business with Hearn. Even Benn has acknowledged previously that Thurman would be difficult to get inside the ring and suggested that the services of a sanctioning body, in the form of a mandate, would be needed to make the fight. Hearn, however, believes he has the checkbook to entice Thurman.  

“He’s a big star, Conor Benn,” Hearn continued. “We’ve got the money to make sure we can do that. We’ll see what happens.”

Hearn noted, in a separate interview recently, that he expects Benn will fight in the fall, perhaps in September or October, regardless of whether or not Thurman materializes as a choice. Hearn said he has had talks with Luis DeCubas Jr., a manager who works closely with PBC-affiliated fighters, about Thurman, but they seemed to be of a preliminary nature at best.

“I think it’s a sad moment in the sport if you can’t mention fighters that are outside of your stable,” Hearn told iFL TV,” Hearn said. “We should always be looking to fight the best, and Keith Thurman is one of the best 147-pounders in the world. I’ve spoken to Luis DeCubas, and I’ve mentioned to him that we would like to fight Keith Thurman.”