Conor Benn v Chris van Heerden: British welterweight secures second-round knockout in Manchester

Benn’s aggressive start to the contest was rewarded in the second round

Conor Benn stopped Chris van Heerden inside two rounds in a scintillating performance at the Manchester Arena on Saturday.

Benn, now unbeaten in 21 fights, searched for the knockout from the first bell, surging forward at every opportunity in the first round.

Van Heerden survived the opening round but was sent crashing to the canvas in the second by a vicious combination.

The victory keeps Benn on track to challenge for a world title this year.

“Whoever they put in front of me I’ll deal with. I’m not fazed. I don’t just talk, I back it up,” Benn told BBC Radio 5 Live after the fight.

“I knew I was going to knock him out, it was just a matter of time,” he added. “Easymoney.”

What next for ‘The Destroyer’?

Benn invited former world champion Amir Khan to join him in the ring after the win, but his British rival played down the possibility of a potential showdown.

Khan, booed by the Manchester crowd, said his only focus was to spend time with his family after losing his grudge match against Kell Brook earlier this year.

Brook is another option for Benn, although previous talks broke down due to the purse demands of ‘Special K’. Matchroom chief Eddie Hearn poured cold water on a fight with Khan but did admit it was time for Benn to step up.

“Benn is the most exciting fighter in the country right now. Now it’s time for the step up this summer,” Hearn said.

“He is a young man with a big future. He’s demolishing guys and it’s time for a step up. Like Kell Brook. That’s to establish the best welterweight in Britain. I think Conor Benn is him.

“There’s him, there’s Danny Garcia, there’s Mikey Garcia, there’s Adrien Broner – there’s all these elite welterweights and that’s really step that’s got to be taken for Conor Benn.

He added: “It’s time to take off the L plates and go into an elite level.”

Is Benn ready for a world title shot?

Chris van Heerden is punched by Conor Benn
Benn wants to become a world champion this year

At the moment it is unclear where this projected world title shot might materialize from.

WBO champion Terence Crawford has given no indication of his plans since splitting from his former promoter Top Rank, while there is a unification clash in America between WBA (Super) champion Yordenis Ugas and WBC and IBF belt holder Errol Spence Jr to come.

“If they offered me the world title next, we’ll take it,” Benn said of his desire to challenge for a world title.

Benn will need to wait until the current champions’ futures become clearer, but the Briton’s 21st straight win still leaves many questions about his capabilities at elite level.

Van Heerden was certainly a step down for Benn after big wins over Chris Algieri and Adrian Granadosand the South African – who had not fought since 2020 – was no match for the sharp, in-form Benn.

The jump from contender to world-title level is quite significant and Benn is still yet to face a serious contender. There is still a rawness to Benn that makes for exciting fights but raises questions about how he would fare against a skilled operator.

Van Heerden required little finesse from Benn, but he was caught on occasion rushing in when he abandoned use of his jab in search of a big shot.

There is talk of European champion David Avanesyan, American stars Danny Garcia and Adrien Broner and Benn certainly needs a fight of that caliber to prepare for what will be a mammoth ask to dethrone the likes of Spence Jr or Crawford.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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