Welterweight prospect Conor Benn is set to face veteran Samuel Vargas on Saturday, April 10, and while he stresses hard that he’s not overlooking Vargas, he does have his thoughts about what he might want to do after.
“I made the mistake once of overlooking an opponent and I hit the deck twice. I can go back to that fight because it was a career-defining moment for me. I had to ask myself how badly I wanted it,” Benn said.
“It taught me to never overlook an opponent. I thought, ‘What’s he going to do to me?’. Boom, straight one-two. That was a massive reality check for me. Since then I don’t overlook opponents. I’m not overlooking Vargas, but what doors open after him?”
Benn (17-0, 11 KO) notes that Vargas (31-6-2, 14 KO) “gave Amir Khan hell,” which might be a bit of an exaggeration — Khan did get dropped in the second round, but otherwise pretty easily dominated the fight — and Khan is one of the fighters Benn would like to face, along with Kell Brook.
“I want a big domestic fight still. Someone that I can take that experience off. The Amir Khans, the Kell Brooks,” he said. “The Josh Kelly fight is still there if he’s still fighting. The Amir Khan fight would be one hell of a fight. That would be a great British clash. Amir Khan was a fighter I looked up to and so was Kell Brook. Why not put me in with one of them after Vargas?”
Promoter Eddie Hearn has noted that Kelly (10-1-1, 6 KO) will likely move up to 154 pounds after his loss to David Avanesyan in February.
Both Khan (34-5, 21 KO) and Brook (39-3, 27 KO) are past their primes for sure, but also would still be viable opponents for Benn if they were interested. They also simply might not be ready to be “proving grounds” opponents for someone like Benn. Brook and Khan are both 34 years old, and really the biggest money fight either of them could make is probably against one another still, even if the iron would hardly be striking hot with that one at this point.
But Benn has to beat Vargas first. He’ll be favored, but Vargas is legitimately tough and a hard-nosed, determined fighter, someone who will bring big effort and come to win. Sometimes grit can be enough, and Benn, 24, does still have some things to prove, though he’s made clear improvements.