Conor Benn halts Jussi Koivula in two-round thriller, Josh Kelly bout touted
Dangerous under fire, just like his old man.
Welterweight Conor Benn, son of former two-weight world titleholder Nigel, survived a torrid opening session to score a dramatic stoppage of Finland’s Jussi Koivula at the famed York Hall arena in London on Friday. The official time was 2:00 of Round 2 and the bout was scheduled for 10.
Benn (15-0, 10 knockouts) was smashed flush with the first right hand that Koivula threw and while not visibly shaken, the crowd gasped throughout Round 1 as Benn absorbed blow after blow. Three minutes gone and this already looked like a very tough assignment, but “The Destroyer” had other ideas.
A solid left hook counter in the second forced Koivula to take a knee following a delayed reaction. The 35-year-old veteran rose gamely, but Benn let his hands go in a sustained burst which forced him down a second time. There was no escape. When Koivula eventually found his feet, Benn pounced and unloaded with a series of power shots, culminating in a big right hand that forced referee Bob Williams to stop the contest.
“He came out firing and caught me with some good shots, but it didn’t faze me,” said Benn in his post-fight interview with Sky Sports in the U.K. “I stayed calm and let my own shots go. I’m trying to get the balance right; the old Conor Benn and the new and improved. I showed a bit of both today.”
Benn is being linked to an intriguing domestic dustup with countryman Josh Kelly.
Ted Cheeseman, the reigning British junior middleweight champion, and Kieron Conway battled their way to a 12-round split decision draw. Conway, fighting on only three weeks’ notice, performed well in the first half but Cheeseman appeared to take control from then on. The feeling was that the Londoner had retained his belt and he was very disappointed with the tied verdict. Official scores were 116-113 Conway, 115-114 Cheeseman and 114-114.
Tom Gray is Associate Editor for Ring Magazine. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing