Conor Benn doesn’t get the feeling that the British stars of yesteryear are itching to take him on.
Not long after Benn shorted Chris van Heerden in two rounds last Saturday at the Manchester Arena in Manchester, England, former welterweight contender Amir Khan, at the suggestion of promoter Eddie Hearn, ducked between the ropes. to share a microphone with Benn. If the idea was to fan the flames of intrigue between the two boxers, British boxing’s past versus its future, the exercise fell apart. Khan, who is coming off a tough sixth-round knockout loss at the hands of compatriot Kell Brook in February, hinted at a return to the ring but also hinted that Benn was out of his mind as a potential opponent.
“I just came here today just to enjoy the champion,” Khan said. Enjoy boxing. Eddie told me to get in the ring. The champion put on a great performance and I am sure he will have a great career. He will go far in life and we will support him.
“At the moment I am enjoying spending time with the family. I could announce something tomorrow or I could announce something in a few months. I made a lot of money in the game. I think it’s about enjoying free time and if hunger returns, we’ll see where we go.
“Look, it’s a hungry young lion. Who knows? People want to see the fight. He is a great champion. Let’s see what happens. At the moment I’m just enjoying my free time. I’m going back to the gym and this is a great motivation.”
Benn, 25, may have been disappointed by Khan’s reaction, but not surprised.
“It’s nothing but respect,” Benn said of the Bolton native in an interview with IFL TV after the fight. “I’ve seen a lot of interviews (with Khan), yeah, ‘he wants the fight,’ so I thought I’d give him this opportunity to express [that]… You see these interviews, yes, ‘Khan wants to fight Benn.’ Well, here’s your time to express that. And what was expressed was the complete polar opposite.
I guess he’s enjoying retirement. He is living a nice life. He has had a great career. You’re probably thinking, ‘why would I want any of that?’ I do not blame him. You’re probably thinking that I could probably do without that in my life.”
Benn (21-0, 14 KOs), the son of British boxing great Nigel Benn, also assumed that Brook also shares the same line of thinking as Khan, but to the Sheffield native, Benn was far less charitable. Benn had called Brook after Brook defeated Khan, but their discussions apparently failed because Brook’s asking price was too high. Brook has reportedly been in serious talks to face middleweight contender Chris Eubank Jr.
“Same with Kell Brook,” Benn said. “He talks trash. He talks so many nonsense. Honestly, he does. He talks waffles, man. It’s frustrating because you think you’re number one in Britain, I think I’m number one in Britain, let’s do it.
“Because you are no better than me. You know, it won’t go past three rounds. He wouldn’t. He will not make it past three rounds.”
Hearn, Benn’s promoter, has stated that he intends to match his job with a high-profile, caliber opponent by the end of the summer, suggesting Keith Thurman, Adrien Broner, Danny Garcia and Mikey Garcia as possibilities. However, it’s unclear how feasible either option would be, given that those fighters are, to one degree or another, backed by Al Haymon, whose company Premier Boxing Champions rarely does business with Hearn.
Benn made it clear that he has no problem taking on top contenders, including the likes of David Avanesyan, who has repeatedly criticized Benn for being “afraid” to take on him.
“This is what I do every day,” Benn continued. “I live for this. Do you think I’m worried about any fighter or any man? Nobody is afraid of anybody. Nobody fears anyone. We are challengers, we are fighters, we are predators. This is what we do.”