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Conor Benn wants Keith Thurman in July

Image: Conor Benn wants Keith Thurman in July

By Barry Holbrook: Conor Benn says Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman is the #1 name on his shortlist of opponents for his next fight in July. Benn (21-0, 14 KOs) says it would be a final eliminator for the WBA ‘regular’ welterweight title that he would be facing Thurman (30-1, 22 KOs) for.

If Thurman agrees to the fight, it would be a significant step up for the 25-year-old Benn, who is coming off a second-round knockout over Chris Van Heerden on April 16th.

The other names on Benn’s shortlist:

  • Mario Barrios
  • Mikey Garcia
  • Danny Garcia
  • Kell Brook
  • Maurice Hooker

Of that bunch, Barrios and Hooker should be fairly easy opponents for Benn to get. Brook seems to want too much money for the fight, so it’s not likely that he’ll get the call.

For it to be an eliminator for the WBA, Benn needs a solid choice like Thurman for it to be taken seriously by fans. Mikey Garcia. Mario Barrios, Danny Garcia, and Maurice Hooker are all coming off of defeats.

Benn rules out Avanesyan fight

“I’d take that fight all day long, but it matters is who’s in what position. That answers that question. Which position I’m in and which position he’s in,” said Conor Benn to iFL TV on a fight between him and David Avanesyan.

“He just came off the back of fighting Mets and Taylor, and I just came back off the back of fighting Algieri and Van Heerden and knocking them both unconscious.

“I’m getting paid good, so I don’t need to look elsewhere. The hard fights for me will come. I like the fights against Jaron Ennis or Vergil Ortiz. I don’t know if he’s moving up. Those fights could happen really soon. You’re talking this year.

“As far as he [Avanesyan] goes, we can’t offer him nothing. That’s why he’s fighting Mets and Taylor. It’s a good move to make out like I’m ducking, but I’m sorry, mate, your card hasn’t worked.

“You’re talking to me like it’s my decision,” said Benn when asked what it will take for him to fight Avanesyan. “You say that but I’m higher than him in all the rankings, all of them.

“I’ll wait for my world title shot. Why take a fight with him unless it’s a final eliminator or for a world title. I’m not interested when you’ve got bigger, massive names in America that will sell out in America or sell out here rather than fighting Avanesyan for the European [147-lb title] when I’m ranked #3 with the WBO and #1 in the WBA, which I believe they’re making me #1 mandatory position.

Kell Brook has gone missing

“It doesn’t make sense for my career anyway [to fight Avanesyan]. I never said actively that I want that fight,” said Benn about him fighting Amir Khan. “Yeah, before [he fought] Kell Brook, but not after [he lost to him].

“Who wants scraps? Who wants someone’s leftovers?,” said Benn sounding like a hypocrite, given that his recent opponents have been fighters that were beaten in the past. “I don’t, I don’t do leftovers.

“I wasn’t interested in that fight [with Khan] anyway, and I’m not interested in the Brook fight, to be honest. He’s gone missing,” said Benn about Brook. “I don’t know where he is. We don’t where he is.

“I’m not going to put my career on hold for nobody, whether it’s financially great or not. I’ll do what’s best for me and my career, and I’m not waiting around for anyone.

Benn wants Thurman next

“I’ve mentioned the names Keith Thurman, Danny Garcia, and Mikey Garcia. I believe he [Eddie Hearn] was reaching out to all of them.

“You have [Mario] Barrios, and then you’ve got [Maurice] Hooker, which I’m not really interested in. Those were the names he was going to reach out to. There’s another name, Jose Ramirez [140-pounder].

“I’d say any one of these opponents, you could fight in a final eliminator. Keith Thurman fought Mario Barrios in a final eliminator with the WBC. So it could be a final eliminator into the regular level.

“Obviously, we want that world title next year. So, I’ll probably this final eliminator and then a world title. If they offer me a world title next, I’ll take it.

“So do I, that’s the one I want out of the lot. That’s the main fight I want is Thurman out of the whole bunch of names I just mentioned. Great fighter, but I believe I’ll be too much.

“Early July, I reckon, that’s the plan,” said Benn about when he’ll be fighting next.

“I believe he tops him in rounds six or eight,” said Benn in picking Canelo Alvarez to knockout Dmitry Bivol this Saturday. “He’s [Canelo] a better fighter than a lot of them in that division in terms of Bivol, Artur Beterbiev, Johnson. Kovalev and Bivol, I would say are better names for Canelo.

“I got caught with some shots that I wouldn’t have against an orthodox,” said Benn about his fight with Chris Van Heerden. “The problem was to go in there and apply pressure.

“I went in there not to give a 6’1” southpaw room to box. You hear Froch say, ‘reckless,’ and it’s rubbish. Just because I didn’t do what you do. Just imagine if I’d done what any other fighter would have done and take my time.

“When I see a twitch of the arm, I’m on you. I’m not going to go in there and give a 6’1” southpaw room to box. I’m going to go in there.

“The first round is the first impression. I’ll go in there and let him know straight away. In the second round, I was a little more calculated and took my time.

“The plan was always to go in there and steam into him, and that’s exactly what I done. That was my game plan. Just because it wasn’t your game plan doesn’t mean that I was reckless or wild. I was on him straightaway.

“I feel like the first round is the first impression, and I wanted him to know he’s really in for a hard night’s work,” said Benn.

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