Conor Benn Can Learn A Lot From Fighting Veteran Southpaw Chris Van Heerden

The Destroyer takes on the South African former world champion in Manchester this weekend
14:05, 14 Apr 2022

Conor Benn will learn a lot when he takes on veteran southpaw Chris van Heerden at the Manchester Arena this weekend, according to Matchroom Boxing CEO Frank Smith.  

The announcement that ‘The Destroyer’ would face the South African received a mixed reception from fight fans, but Smith believes the undefeated welterweight can only grow from taking on an experienced operator like van Heerden, a former IBO world champion. 

“We’ve come under fire a little bit for the opponent choice, but Conor Benn is still young, still learning and still developing,” Smith told the Lightweight Boxing Show.  

“And I think, if you said two years ago, ‘he’s going to be facing Chris Algieri and Chris van Heerden’ - people would have said ‘no chance’, people wrote him off. And now it’s like he can’t go quick enough. He wants to fight the biggest names, he wants to fight the best names but firstly he’s got to get through the test of Chris van Heerden, a southpaw - he’s going to learn a lot in there. 

“And I think, just like he learned against Chris Algieri, he’ll learn a lot on Saturday night. I think he can go in there and stop him and hopefully we get another knockout performance like we had in Liverpool.”

“The southpaw challenge for Conor is going to be interesting because it's the first time he’s really faced a southpaw. 

“It’s going to take time throughout the fight for him to adjust and set his game plan into it. I think van Heerden, with his experience, we saw it when [Kid] Galahad fought [Kiko] Martinez - experience is always there, you never lose that side of it and I think that’s going to be an important part to play in this.”

Matthew Hatton, uncle and trainer of Campbell Hatton, who also appears on Saturday’s card in Manchester, fought van Heerden in the last fight of his professional career back in 2013. ‘Matty’ lost via unanimous decision in South Africa almost a decade ago, but although he believes van Heerden is a good fighter and can provide a test for Benn, the 40-year-old is confident that the Brit will emerge victorious. 

“I think from Conor Benn's point of view, it's a good, sensible match,” Hatton told the Lightweight Boxing Show.

“I think he's knocking on the door for a world title. But once you make the move, you can't move backwards. Better to be in a couple of fights and I think this is quite a safe fight for Conor.

“Chris is a very good, solid fighter. He can certainly test him. Can he beat him? I don't think so.

“You know, I remember eight years ago, Chris was a good fighter. He beat me. I can't say anything. That was part of the reason why I retired, because I did believe the hunger had just gone from me a little bit there and it's so, so important.

“No disrespect, I thought 'how did I lose to Chris?' You know, a couple of years ago, I would have beaten him, but it was very simple, he wanted to win more than me. And that's when I knew it was the right time to stop.

“You know, he's a good fighter, a good, solid fighter. He certainly was eight years ago. Is he now? I'm not too sure. I haven't seen much of his recent form. He can test Conor Benn. Can he beat him? I don't think so.”

Betfred's Conor Benn vs Chris Van Heerden Fight Odds*

*18+ | BeGambleAware

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