Trainer Tony Sims on Conor Benn and his future
Trainer Tony Sims believes Conor Benn’s fight with Adrian Granados this weekend is the perfect one to take his charge to the next level.
Benn meets the experienced Mexican in Leeds on Saturday after their fight was postponed earlier in the summer when the Londoner caught coronavirus.
“He got away with it lightly,” Sims said of Benn’s medical issues. “He did 10 days lockdown and after three or four days he was feeling alright and started doing bits and pieces, like shadowboxing and weights, so in reality it was only about a week that he wasn’t doing anything and he’s got back into it very quickly. I had Covid [before] and I was only ill for three days; the other seven days I was tired. We had it in the gym and it was like a stack of dominos, everyone got it. The only one who was bad with it was Felix Cash, he had to go to hospital, but everyone else just had two or three days and that was it.”
Benn was due to headline a Fight Camp against Granados but now he’s in front of 20,000 fans in Headingly rather than 400 at Matchroom’s HQ, it’s worked out well.
“He’s raring to go,” confirmed Sims. “He wants to get back into the ring and he wants to fight. He’s in the gym all the time and he wants to fight all the time, so he’s always fit, in shape and he’s looking forward to it on Saturday.”
When Benn turned over, he received scorn for being the son of a British boxing legend who was in it for the money and the chance to use a famous surname. But he’s won over legions of fans and it’s something Sims has witnessed first-hand.
“He’s done it with hard work, determination and he’s done it with listening constantly,” Sims explained. “He’s a really good pro. He’s learned all about diet and food, he’s got good S&C advice with Dan Lawrence and everything he does towards his goal is done with ultimate professionalism. You know he’s got power, it’s in his DNA, but what he’s learned to do is be a smart boxer and I said to him from the start, ‘If you can be a smart boxer and hit like your dad, you’re halfway there.’ That’s what he’s becoming. He’s very smart defensively. His feet are good. He’s got a nice jab. His head movement is good. He’s got a little way to go yet, but I think opponent-wise he’s getting further and further up to the goal of becoming a world champion, which is what he wants.
“He wants to do that instead of being in his dad’s shadow. He wants to come out of that… become a world champion in his own right. These opponents, like [Samuel] Vargas and Granados, they’re like the gatekeepers of the elite. They’ve been in with the elite and if you’re going to reach a goal then you’ve got to beat these fighters and get experience from them as well. I think Granados is the right opponent at the right time for him. We know Granados is a tough operator. I had him winning the fight against [Adrien] Broner when I watched it at that time, so that shows how tough he is. He had a great fight with Robert Easter Jr. as well, he fought [Shawn] Porter, so he’s been in with top fighters and taken them into deep waters. We’re expecting a hard fight, but Conor is developing all the time and I’m expecting him to put a performance in.”
When Sims, who used to spar Conor’s dad back in the day, first took the young contender on he had his work cut out. He had someone with some ambition and a little potential but next to no experience and a target on his back.
While Tony is loathed to say Benn has come on as much as anyone he’s trained, he believes that you can make a case for it.
“I think so, that’s hard to say [because] then I’m putting down the others,” Sims replied. “Ted Cheeseman is the same age as him and when you look at how his career has gone, he’s a very smart fighter now. I was watching him spar yesterday and he’s become very clever. He slips, slides and rolls, he’s got a nice jab, so it’s nice to watch fighters develop. There’s Felix Cash as well. I know he was a bit more of an elite amateur but he’s coming on. But Conor was more raw than anyone. From day one, everyone could see what a novice he was. He’d had a handful of fights in Australia which were probably more like white-collar fights over there, but to go from the raw fighter he was to the more complete fighter he is today… Obviously the fights are getting harder now and he needs to get through these obstacles.”
Granados is the next in his way. A few people had mentioned Porter as a possible future Benn foe. More recently, Broner’s name has come up. For Sims, it’s one fight at a time and wait and see. Is Broner possible?
“Whatever fight Eddie Hearn wants to put together, obviously he can financially,” said Sims. “But like I said to them, let’s do one fight at a time. I want to see, just like anyone else, how Conor’s developing. As much as I watch him in the gym sparring, I want to see him with a decent opponent who’s going to take him a few rounds and see where he’s at. If he ends up in a tight fight [with Granados], perhaps he won’t be ready for Broner. If he does another great job then maybe those fights are next. You’ve got to be careful, take each fight as it goes and see how he develops. He’s still a very young man. He’s 24 years old.”