Sunday, December 04, 2022  |


A true fighter thrives off challenges – Conor Benn

Photo by Ian Walton/ Matchroom Boxing

There is an awful lot of talk around this weekend’s showpiece event in London. Conor Benn steps up to face Chris Eubank in a huge attraction at the O2 Arena in a fight that is laced with intrigue.

Benn is going up in weight, Eubank has to lose some pounds. Both have enjoyed good careers so far in their own right, but they have been known to the public for far longer because of their famous fathers and the rivalry they shared a generation ago.

The hype has been significant but Benn, for one, hasn’t been paying any mind to it.

“I’m not really into all that,” said Benn. “I’m in the fight, so I don’t see all the outside. I’m so wrapped up in my bubble I don’t really see the bigger picture. I just look at beating the man on the night and I’m just in training.”

But the fight is only days away and Benn is now old enough, at 26, to realise he is in a fight, not just an event.

“It presents its challenges, that goes without question, but a true fighter thrives off challenges and it was one I was willing to take,” Conor, 21-0, said. “I believe I come out victorious. I believe in my team, my work ethic and I feel strong, I feel powerful. I mean, it is a big step up in opposition and also the weight situation but a fight is a fight at the end of the day.”

But this is more than that. The fight has captured the imagination of the boxing public and Eubank has been playing his part. He’s said he’s only going to be at 60 percent because of the weight loss, but he’s posted videos of him with buckets of KFC, eating cake and dining out at high-priced restaurants.

It was Benn’s birthday last week, but he didn’t have a slice of his own cake.

Asked about Eubank’s videos and Eubank ‘eating’ the foods he’s been pictured with, Benn said: “You don’t know if he has. He’s got to do PR. It’s part of the job. I’m just keeping doing what I’m doing. Somebody’s got to be the villain and he’s that guy and he wants to portray that, but I believe he’s working extremely hard because he’s an athlete and there’s a lot on the line here. Everyone’s been talking about it [Eubank’s social media], so he’s done the job he’s set out to do.”

Has Benn been entertained by what he’s seen?

“Some of them are quite funny but it’s not what I’m about,” he said. “You’ve just got to look at him and laugh, because it is quite hysterical.”

Eubank has heaped pressure on himself with the videos, and also by saying he will have no choice but to retire if he is defeated. Eubank arguably has more to lose. He’s older, and won’t have the same excuse of being ‘overmatched’ Benn has.

“I don’t know,” said Benn, contemplating that. “If that’s the way he needs to make himself feel to get out of bed and train in the morning then so be it. But in the same breath he’s saying that and also portraying not to be training hard, so he’s just a weird guy, isn’t he? Everything he does contradicts himself. I think arrogance can make you look a fool at times, which is what’s happening here.”

Benn is known as an emotional character. He’s fiery. He’s passionate, and like Eubank he has an awful lot on the line on Saturday night. There are plenty who feel he has bitten off more than he can chew.

“As of right now, I feel very calm,” said Conor. “I have the odd butterflies in the morning. I wake up and have a little bit of butterflies and think, ‘Yeah, I’m fighting soon.’ But I’ll probably feel the same way on fight night, to be honest with you. It’s really weird. A fight’s a fight. Earlier on in my career it was daunting, scary. I was scared and fearful because I was a kid and not ready for the big stage. I felt like I wasn’t ready. I feel like I’m ready now. My last two, three, four fights I’ve been relatively chilled. Yeah, I’ve been emotional but I’ve been chilled. This is what I do. I do this day in, day out.”

But at the same time, there comes a point where the switch will flick and Benn goes through his transformation into ‘The Destroyer.’ And that would happen regardless of who stands in the opposite corner on Saturday night.

“I get in that way anyway,” he said of his fight night mindset. “All I’ve got to do is see my opponent and I’m straight into that zone. The whole camp I’ve been relatively all right and then I saw him [Eubank] at Good Morning Britain [television show] and I was ready to have it [a fight] then. I’m not even joking. I was ready to go then. I get like that. I can’t help it. It’s just what I do. I’m calm now I’m away from the fight, and I’m in the gym every day and we work on things and we train extremely hard but there’s a time for that feeling, and the time for that feeling is when I’m staring my opponent in the eye or when I’m in the same environment as my opponent. I get my back up. It’s just the way I am.”