Conor Benn could be in line for a huge fight in the summer should he find a way past veteran southpaw Chris van Heerden at the Manchester Arena on Saturday night, according to Eddie Hearn.
The Matchroom Sport chairman was in Sheffield on Friday at the world famous Crucible Theatre ahead of the Betfred World Championship which kicked off today.
Speaking to Betfred, the promoter was asked about Benn’s future after the Van Heerden fight and Hearn believes that ‘The Destroyer’, son of British boxing royalty Nigel Benn, is closing in on bigger fights and a potential world title shot.
“Conor Benn is a big star for British boxing and is starting to become a big global star as well as one of the best welterweights in the world. Now there’s a big fight with Kell Brook brewing.
“He’s got a tough fight tomorrow against Chris van Heerden - the first southpaw that he’s faced in his career.
“Conor Benn’s now 20-0, top five in all the governing bodies across the world. Very exciting, you know, he fights off emotion just like his dad and is starting to get very close to a shot at the world welterweight title.
“I think world title, probably two more fights, but I think if he gets through tomorrow night in style, I think he’s ready for one of those names, whether that’s a Mikey Garcia, an Adrien Broner or Kell Brook. He wants those big fights now. I think the work that he’s done in the gym and he keeps passing these tests with flying colours. And if he does that with Van Heerden tomorrow night, I think he’s ready for a really big fight.
“We tried to make that fight [Brook] for the summer, which we will continue to do if he wins on Saturday. Kell’s Brook’s had a good resurgence, of course he beat Amir Khan, and he’s looking for a big fight himself.”
The Betfred World Championship, the most prestigious competition across the whole of snooker, got underway in the Steel City on Saturday where Ronnie O’Sullivan will be bidding for a record-equalling seventh world title. And when asked who he'd back to triumph at the Crucible this year, Hearn believes the "box office" Rocket is the man to beat.
“As a casual snooker fan, if I’m betting on snooker, obviously I don’t and can’t, Ronnie O’Sullivan is the guy. Are we talking 6/1 with Betfred? Ronnie’s always [good] value because [of] the excitement that he brings.
“Obviously Neil Robertson, playing great snooker, Judd Trump as well. But for me, Ronnie’s the one and he’s the guy that can light up this tournament. As I said, from a casual fan’s perspective, he’s the guy us casual fans look out for. He’s the guy you want to go deep in the tournament because you know it’s going to bring a lot of excitement.
“He is [box office], and it’s difficult when you talk about the discipline of the game, you know Jason Ferguson and those other guys do such a great job. I’ve been in board meetings before at World Snooker, where they’re talking about players and player behaviour.
"Going back to a casual fan, you almost want to let it go, you want rivalries, you want a little bit of confrontation. This is a gentleman's sport, it’s not boxing, but at the same time those storylines are great and Ronnie is box office, in everything he does. When he’s at the table and when he’s not at the table, even the controversial comments, they might upset a lot of people but the truth is they’re going to create headlines and they’re going to be good for the sport.
"The talent that he has, you talk about [Steve] Davis, you talk about [Stephen] Hendry and great players before, they all say and people within the sport say that Ronnie O’Sullivan is the most talented player of all time. So to not win it more than six times probably doesn’t do his ability justice.
"I’ve known Ronnie for years, not closely, but I’ve seen his love for snooker as everybody has, come and go. I haven’t spoken to him recently but from an outsider’s point of view he looks committed to the sport, he wants to win, and I think if Ronnie is motivated I think he’s going to be very difficult to beat."
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