Eubank Jr vs Benn Preview: Too Much Too Soon for Benn?
With no major boxing on the schedule for this weekend, we will take a look at next weekend’s marquee event. Chris Eubank Jr (32-2, 23 KOs) will face off against Conor Benn (21-0, 14 KOs) in a 157lb catchweight affair at the 02 Arena in Greenwich, UK. Continuing the tradition of their fathers who had potentially the highest profile rivalry in the history of British Boxing, they will meet in the ring over thirty years after their fathers first squared off. Nigel Benn and Chris Eubank Sr had two fights that captivated boxing fans around the world, especially in Britain. The first fight took place in 1990, with Eubank Sr being victorious stopping Benn in the ninth round. The second fight was made three years later, and saw another highly competitive encounter that resulted in a split decision draw.
Here we now are, in the year 2022, with the names Eubank and Benn once again being relevant in the sport of boxing. Chris Eubank Jr is the favorite in this new generation matchup. At 32 years old, he has more experience at the highest level and has been in marquee fights before. His two losses came at the highest level (Billy Joe Saunders and George Groves), and he has defeated a few world level opponents as well (Arthur Abraham, James DeGale and Liam Williams). Benn is certainly the “greener” of the two, as the 26 year old welterweight contender has looked impressive in his last few performances, but has yet to prove it against a top 10 level opponent.
The size difference between the two is noticeable and could play a factor in how this fight shakes out. Eubank has fought his entire career at or above the 160lb middleweight limit, while Benn has never weighed over 148lbs for a professional contest. Eubank having to boil down to 157lbs will be a challenge, but I think it’s fair to say that as far as weight is concerned Benn is the one at a disadvantage. If Eubank is drained at all during the fight it could affect his stamina and punch resistance, which increase the chances of Benn landing a big shot that can hurt him. If he makes the weight cleanly, then he will have a noticeable size advantage and could prove to be too big and strong.
Conor Benn was not supposed to be in this position, especially at just 26 years of age. He turned pro with limited amateur experience and had to learn on the job. In his eleventh pro fight he had a very difficult time out against a journeymen type of opponent. He fought Cedrick Peynaud (8-8-3, 5-4-3 at the time) in December of 2017. Peynaud dropped Benn twice in the first round and had him in a ton of trouble. Benn showed that he was not all just hype, as he rallied to win the fight on points. Since that moment, Benn has had a chip on his shoulder and has been on a mission to prove that he was worthy of the opportunities that his last name have presented him.
Benn would rematch Peynaud a year later and win a wide unanimous decision. He would continue stepping up in competition until he started fighting quality opposition in recent years. He defeated Sebastian Formella (23-3, 11 KOs) by unanimous decision in November of 2020 before a breakout 2021 year. He began the year with a first round stoppage of veteran contender Samuel Vargas (31-8-2, 14 KOs) and then beat Adrian Granados (21-9-3, 15 KOs) in a ten round unanimous decision. In December of 2021 he would get his first chance to face off against a former world champion in Chris Algieri (25-4, 9 KOs). Benn turned in his most impressive performance to date in that fight; he showed off an improved offensive skillset and defensive awareness. He knocked Algieri out in round four, and proved that he was a completely different fighter from the one that was once dropped twice in the first round.
After a successful 2021, Benn and his team turned to 2022 and hoped that they could land his first marquee opponent. He was last in action this April as he faced off against the first southpaw in his boxing career. Chris van Heerden (28-3-1, 12 KOs), had previously been in the ring with Unified Welterweight Champion Errol Spence Jr (28-0, 22 KOs) and top contender Jaron Ennis (29-0, 27 KOs), so it was a good test to see how far Benn had developed in the past few years. He passed the test with flying colors, knocking van Heerden out in the second round and showing that he has arrived as a legit welterweight contender.
Instead of matching up against a fellow welterweight contender, Benn opted to move up two divisions in weight and take on the most challenging opponent that he has faced in his young career. He has never been in with a major puncher at 147lbs, and fighting someone with the size and ability of a Eubank Jr is definitely a major step up. Eubank competed last in February when he was paired with former title challenger Liam Williams (23-4-1, 18 KOs). Eubank turned in an impressive performance in what was predicted to be a close and competitive contest. He dropped Williams four times over the twelve round duration and took home a unanimous decision victory.
Eubank Jr has been confident in the whole build up to the event, making sure that he keeps reminding Benn that they are not on the same level and he will find that out on the 8th of October when they share the ring.
“Yeah, it’s a big ask, but he has big balls,” Eubank said of Benn during a roundtable interview published on the Matchroom Boxing YouTube channel. “I respect that about him. It makes sense from a business perspective; from an ability perspective, it doesn’t. He’ll obviously tell you different. You won’t know until that bell goes.”
“There’s levels in the game,” Eubank continued. “He’s never done anything like this before. I’ve done this for years. He doesn’t know what it feels like to walk into the fire, in front of 20,000 people.”
“That’s the exciting thing about this,” Eubank said. “We’re going to find out something we don’t know about Conor Benn. We don’t know how he deals with adversity. We’ve never seen him get hurt. Will he be able to come through? We don’t know. He’s an unknown entity. He’s on a hot streak right now, knocking out guys, the hype train is there.”
Benn certainly has not shied away from confrontation, letting Eubank know that he is just as confident that he will get the job done.
“I’ve said that numerous times. This is a fight that makes sense for now. The World Title is still the goal, but this is once in a lifetime. This is a fantasy fight for the British public. Forget about how far apart we were when I first turned pro, the names were still mentioned to me. Eubank was still mentioned to me before I even had my debut fight. It’s just been brewing, and the stars have aligned for October 8th.
“As Chris said, we’ve both walked the same road so you’ve got to respect that. I respect all fighters. But when we get in there we will settle the family business. I’m taking care of the family business. The last fight was a draw. It’s about time I set the score straight.
“At the end of the day it’s not my job to worry about what he thinks or what he does, or his team and how he’s approaching this. I worry about what I’ve got to do. I’ve always worried about what I’ve got to do, irrelevant of everyone else and what they’re doing. I’m focusing on delivering on October 8th. I haven’t failed to deliver. I haven’t tasted a loss, and I don’t plan on taking a loss on October 8th.”
Though Eubank is the favorite and I am picking him to win, this is a fight that can certainly go either way. Many have compared this fight to the 2016 middleweight showdown between Kell Brook and Gennadiy Golovkin, where Eddie Hearn’s Brook jumped up two weight classes to fight Golovkin. Hearn promotes Benn and much like in 2016, is moving his rising welterweight star up two weight divisions to fight Eubank Jr. Though Eubank is no Gennadiy Golovkin, Kell Brook had beaten Shawn Porter for the IBF welterweight title and had proven much more than Benn has so far in his career. If Eubank is not affected by the weight cut, then I see him being too big and experienced for the younger Benn.
Eubank has had a bit of controversy surrounding his fight camp, such as mocking the 157lb catchweight by eating KFC at local boxing shows for fans and media to see. He’s also stated multiple times that due to the weight he will only be at 60% come fight night and that that will still be enough to defeat someone like Conor Benn. I have always been a fan of the hunger that Conor Benn has showed and the chip that he carries on his shoulder, and if Eubank is taking him lightly at all then he could be in for a tougher fight than he ever anticipated. Benn has recently showed a vast improvement in his boxing skills, and if his power can carry up to 157lbs then he has a real path to victory. Eubank has also shown improvements as of late with the legendary Roy Jones Jr as his head trainer, but he is without Roy for this camp so it is to be determined if he will carry those improvements into the ring with him next Saturday night.
This week is considered a “bye week” for boxing fans, since we were left without any major network TV events for this weekend. Even with this weekend’s dry schedule, we can all look forward to a packed month of October boxing that has a slew of main events. Down below I have attached the “Face Off: Chris Eubank Jr vs Conor Benn”, along with “Chris Eubank Jr vs Conor Benn: Make The Days Count ep1”. Both videos were posted by Matchroom Boxing and have added to the hype surrounding this massive event. If this fight intrigues you, then you will want to check out the both of them.