BBN writer Darshan Desai lists his top picks for Benn to face next
Rising Welterweight star Conor Benn (18-0) made an impressive statement on Saturday night with an explosive first-round Technical Knockout of Colombian-Canadian welterweight gatekeeper Samuel Vargas (31-6). In his post-fight interview, he jumped at the idea of a blockbuster showdown with Amir Khan.
Trainer and manager Tony Sims and promoter Eddie Hearn replicated his idea of fighting a big British name, either Khan or Brook, and agreed that they would like to see Benn fight twice more this year. With Benn recently having a new child; this will not be until July/August and could potentially be a Fight Camp Headliner.
With Benn's wins over former IBO Champion Formella 'beating him just as good as Porter did' and being the fastest to ever beat Samuel Vargas (stopping him faster than Errol Spence, Vergil Ortiz and Danny Garcia) it is evident that he needs a proper step-up to test him and that must be a top-15 fighter by the end of the year.
Conor Benn has never won a domestic title so the logical step would be for him to fight for the prestigious Lonsdale belt that he was mandatory for in 2020. The Champion, Chris Jenkins (22-3), is beatable and provides a step in the right direction.
However, he is represented by Queensberry Promotions, who are unlikely to let Jenkins fight Benn, as they stopped him from doing so in 2020; even though Team Jenkins were happy to and 'delighted with the offer'. Additionally, the champion is scheduled to face Queensberry prospect and undefeated English Champion Ekow Essuman in the summer.
Michael 'The Problem' McKinson (20-0) proved to be just that when he beat fellow unbeaten prospect Chris Kongo and captured his first title - the WBO Global strap, on the Povetkin-Whyte 2 undercard. Ranked WBO #6, if Benn could beat him he would earn himself another world ranking at the least and gain some valuable experience against a very tricky style.
Despite this, McKinson is an awkward and tough style to beat. Additionally, he hasn't got the profile that would mean much commercial gain from Benn beating him. Benn is also in the top 10 in the WBA where Mckinson is not ranked and therefore it would not make a lot of sense to fight him.
Promoter Eddie Hearn was adamant that Benn was past British level and was fringe world level but that he would still like for Benn to win the European title. David Avanesyan, the European champion, upset fellow top prospect, Josh Kelly, in February and would be a big step-up for Benn as well as a terrific contest for the fans.
Although Avanesyan is EBU champion he is slightly ahead of that level and more fringe world level (top 15), especially as a former world ruler, beating Shane Mosley in 2016 for the WBA bauble. Additionally, Avanesyan is also top 10 in the WBA meaning this would be a world title eliminator. Due to the difficulty, this would be the perfect fight at least one more if not two more fights down the line either December or spring of 2022.
Household name and British boxing superstar Amir 'King' Khan is a multi-weight champion and former P4P top fighter. Khan is at the end of his career meaning his focus has shifted from title ambitions to financial incentives and likely only has one big fight left until he retires. That could possibly come against Kell Brook, finally!
However, Benn is also a big UK name and Khan vs Benn would be a 'passing of the torch' fight that would help establish the 'The Destroyer' as a UK star with the event having to be staged on PPV. Additionally, it would be a 'big name' win to put down on the resume against an ageing former unified champion. The money would have to be right for Khan to take such a fight, but the reality TV star has already completely dismissed any such chance of a showdown.
Conor Benn is top 10 in the world with the WBA, but is still very much learning as he goes and therefore needs to stay active by boxing at least two more times this year with the second of which being Avanesyan. The first should be a slight step-up with the likes of Canadian Mikel Zewski, Argentina's Alberto Palmetta or Japanese Keith Obara in the summer.