Unbeaten welterweight Conor Benn says he’s made peace with the fact that his dad, British boxing legend Nigel, will be returning to the ring at the age of 55 on November 23 in Birmingham, despite being far from ecstatic about his father’s renewed passion for the sport.
Speaking to The Sportsman, Conor said: “It’s crazy, it’s madness. I think boxing’s mad at the minute, you’ve got KSI v Logan Paul fighting - I mean that’s crazy. They’ve been sanctioned, so it is crazy.
“Dad’s gotta do what he’s got to do, he’s been wanting to do this for years. I’ve made my peace and I don’t want him to fight. I don’t want to see him get punched in the face, and see someone try and intentionally hurt my dad.”
The elder Benn, an immensely popular figure in his heyday and former two-weight World Champion, formally announced his return to the ring at a press conference on Thursday.
He also confirmed that the tough-as-nails Cameroonian Sakio Bika, a former World Champion himself, will be in the opposite corner - a choice of opponent that Conor has expressed his weariness over.
“He’s only fought a year and a half ago, he’s young, well younger, a lot younger. I mean talk about testing yourself, do you know what I mean? It’s crazy.”
When asked who he’d rather see his dad share the ring with, Benn responded:
“I’d probably pick like [Chris] Eubank, [Steve] Collins, [Bernard] Hopkins or Roy Jones. I think Sakio’s more of a risk than all of them.”
‘The Dark Destroyer’, ranked by BoxRec as the fourth-best British super-middleweight boxer of all-time, will now fight Bika under the British and Irish Boxing Authority after being rejected a licence from the British Boxing Board of Control due to his age and time spent away from the sport.
The BBBoC weren’t the only people concerned about Benn’s health and Conor says he’s done everything to ensure his dad returns to the ring correctly:
I was on to my dad’s agent about his health. I don’t want no Mickey Mouse testing - I want the best testing.
“My dad’s got a family, I’ve got little brothers and sisters so it ain’t fun and games. Maybe for the general public it is but it ain’t fun and games for me. It ain’t fun and games for my family either.
“So, it’s making sure they’ve got a neurosurgeon there, making sure they have the MRI scanner, making sure they have a team on standby, just in case. God willing nothing goes wrong.”
Despite his scepticism towards the fight, Conor says he understands the motivation behind his father’s ring return:
“Not only does he just want to fight again, it’s for himself, it really is for himself. It’s quite selfish but you’ve got to be selfish in this sport.
“Who am I to say no? Who am I to say ‘I ain’t supporting you?’ or ‘I ain’t gonna help you through this decision.’
“‘Although I don’t agree with it, and I don’t want you fighting, you’re my dad, I love you, and I’m here for you, and you can do training camp with me.’”
Would the younger Benn be willing to spar with his dad to get him ready for his November return?
“Course I will! And I’ll be recording it on the sly.”
Conor Benn will next fight on the undercard of the World Super Series of Boxing super-lightweight final between Josh Taylor and Regis Prograis on October 26 at the 02 Arena.