Conor Benn moves closer to welterweight elite with second-round knockout of Chris van Heerden

Conor Benn moves closer to welterweight elite with second-round knockout of Chris van Heerden

Conor Benn edged closer to the welterweight boxing elite with another display of his ruthless finishing in a two-round destruction of Chris van Heerden on Saturday.

The English contender continued his knockout form at the Manchester Arena, England, hours before the triple world title fight between rival champions Errol Spence and Yordenis Ugas in the United States.

“I keep subbing them. Southpaw, orthodox…I deal with them,” Benn said. “If you want British domestics, we will have [Kell] brook gold [Amir] Khan, if not we will push on for the world titles. I will leave the matchmaking to the promoters, I will just iron them out.”

Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn said Benn can be expected to face a step up in class when he fights again in the summer.

“When you demolish opposition like that you have to make big jumps,” Hearn said. “Now we have to step up the opposition. Now it’s time for more of the serious players.”

Amir Khan, also from England, joined Benn in the ring afterward, but the former junior welterweight said he was undecided about whether he would box on after a six-round stoppage loss to Kell Brook, the former IBF world welterweight champion who is 10 years older than Brook.

Essex, England-based Benn (21-0, 14 KOs), 25, who was raised in Spain and Australia, is trying to follow in the footsteps of his father, Nigel Benn, who reigned as world middleweight and super middleweight champion in the 1990s, and has made impressive progress over the past two years.

Van Heerden (28-3-1, 12 KOs), 34, from Johannesburg, South Africa, and based in California, was stopped in eight rounds by Spence in 2015, two years before the American became world champion. After blowing away former world champion Chris Algieri in four rounds in December, Benn produced an even quicker stoppage against van Heerden.

Southpaw van Heerden, who began his professional career when Benn was 9 years old, entered the ring with just one round of action since August 2019 (a fight against top contender Jaron Ennis was stopped after a round due to van Heerden suffering a cut in the December 2020 end).

But the South African showed no signs of ring rust in a ferocious first round, with both landing big shots.

But van Heerden, who had “Dad” across the top of his shorts — his father, Daniel, was killed in South Africa in 2018 — quickly fell apart in the second round when he was rocked by a straight right hand. Benn followed up with van Heerden propped up against the ropes, and a chopping right hand left the South African boxer on the canvas.

Chris Billam-Smith overwhelmed Tommy McCarthy in the eighth round to defend his European and Commonwealth cruiserweight titles and move closer to a world title shot.

Billam-Smith, who is ranked No. 3 with the IBF and WBO governing bodies, produced a sustained attack and finished McCarthy with a right hand in the eighth round of a fight he had begun to dominate. Billam-Smith (15-1, 11 KOs), 31, from Bournemouth, England, beat McCarthy (18-4, 9 KOs), 31, from Belfast, Northern Ireland, by a split decision in July last year — but this was even more impressive. McCarthy started well, landing two heavy overhand right hands in the second round, but Billam-Smith landed a series of blows in the fourth round, including a left hook that shook McCarthy on the bell.

Billam-Smith, who is a sparring partner and gymmate of WBO world champion Lawrence Okolie, continued to pile on the pressure from that point and unloaded a series of heavy blows when McCarthy was on the ropes in the eighth, before the Northern Irishman was sent falling forward and stopped after a final right hand.

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