Big Ben chimed, the music launched into The Fugees ‘Ready or Not’ and then shifted into ‘Dangerous’. You could be forgiven for thinking you were back in 1990 and the original ‘Dark Destroyer’ Nigel Benn was walking to the ring. But no, a new kid is in town, one that may even surpass the accomplishments of his famous father.
Conor Benn, rising star and now WBA continental welterweight champion has arrived. Reminiscent of his father’s destruction of Iran Barkley, the new ‘Destroyer’ completely demolished his opponent Columbia’s Samuel Vargas inside 1:20 at the Copper Box Arena in London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park on Saturday.
Going in; many rightly thought this was Benn’s first real test and some that he was in too deep, too early. Vargas entered the contest with a 31-6-2 (14 KO) record and having mixed in good company including Errol Spence Jnr and Amir Khan.
The 24 year old Benn, announced from his father’s old stomping ground of Ilford, Essex simply blew the Colombian away.
He looked a picture of pent up, twitching aggression during the ring announcements, in stark contrast to Vargas’ laid back, almost uninterested demeanour. You could’ve thought Benn’s nervousness was at the sudden realization of the challenge. Vargas had talked a good fight coming in, threatening to “break him down and take his soul”, amongst other slurs.
From the opening bell Benn took control and working off his excellent jab landed repetitive concussive blows shaking Vargas early. The jab was followed by pile driver right hands and an impressive array of hooks and uppercuts.
Benn’s shot selection and intensity was breathtaking and his 31 year old opponent never recovered from the onslaught. Referee Michael Alexander had no option but to wave the fight over as continual shots landed on Vargas with nothing coming in reply. Vargas look shocked by the stoppage and there was brief challenge but the stoppage was excellently timed and warranted.
The aggression shown in the fight by Benn continued into the post fight interview broadcast live on BT Sport in the UK. Clearly expecting a harder and longer contest he was still ‘smokin’ when being asked about the outcome. “Give me a proper test, get me Amir Khan” he belted out… “If he wants it, he can have it”.
Summing up his opponent he said “He was there to be hit…so I hit him”…”I’m just putting some respect on the name (Benn)…Give me Shawn Porter, Broner”.
On this evidence you couldn’t fail to be impressed. It was the performance that launched Benn into the mainstream and set welterweights on alert domestically and internationally. True, he only now has an 18-0 (12 KO) record but the manner of the victory will have put earlier critics on notice that this latest Benn is gonna’ ring loud over the next few years.
The difficulty now for Matchroom Boxing head Eddie Hearn is to find the matches that build on this outstanding performance and momentum. Referring to Benn in the post-fight interview he said “After a performance like that, how can you not get excited ?”.
Undoubtedly there are tougher assignments ahead but Conor Benn has arrived.