Conor Benn’s first fight of 2022 is officially set, as he’ll face veteran Chris van Heerden atop an April 16th DAZN card in Manchester.
We're heading back to Manchester!— Matchroom Boxing (@MatchroomBoxing) March 9, 2022
@ConorNigel vs @TheHeat001
@ChrisBillam vs @Tommymac90 2
Plus @zelfaflash, @JackCullen1461, @CampbellHatton, @jordan_boxing93, @CyrusRamone & more!
️ April 16#BennVanHeerden pic.twitter.com/UwsCDAO8ox
Benn (20-0, 13 KO) enjoyed his best year to date in 2021, battering Samuel Vargas in 80 seconds before cruising past Adrian Granados and starching Chris Algieri with a violent one-punch finish. He now sits in three of the four sanctioning bodies’ top 10s, but it’s not quite time for his title shot yet.
“I’m excited to step into the ring with Chris Van Heerden,” said Benn. “Van Heerden is a tough operator and a southpaw who will be in there giving it his all in every round. For my team and me, it’s now about fighting every style that we can face as we continue to head towards World Championship status, and Van Heerden brings something different to the table than I’ve not met before.
“With that being said, this is another stepping stone for me on my journey to the top, I haven’t seen anything in Van Heerden’s previous fights that I can’t deal with, and I expect another explosive victory on April 16. If he comes to fight or wants to box, I can deliver that smoke either way! The AO Arena has to be one of the most exciting venues to fight in. I love Manchester. I get shown a lot of love and support up in Manchester – it’s a fighting city. I bring the entertainment every time I fight, and I can’t wait for April 16.”
van Heerden (28-2-1, 12 KO) hasn’t fought since December 2020, when a clash of heads ended his fight with Jaron Ennis in the first round. His only loss in the last decade came to Errol Spence Jr., but inactivity and a lack of top competition have kept him firmly in the middle of the pack.
“Sometimes it takes ten years for that one year to come around that completely changes your life,” said Van Heerden. “This is my year. I want to thank Conor Benn for taking the fight, knowing that I’m coming to beat him in his backyard. I also want to thank Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Boxing for taking this risk and my manager Peter Kahn for getting this Fight done. I am looking forward to putting on a show in Manchester on DAZN.”
The card will also see Chris Billam Smith (14-1, 10 KO) defend his European cruiserweight title against Tommy McCarthy (18-3, 9 KO), whom he narrowly edged out last July in a competitive affair, and IBF super featherweight mandatory challenger Zelfa Barrett (27-1, 16 KO) stay busy against Faroukh Kourbanov (19-3, 3 KO). Campbell Hatton (6-0, 2 KO), Jack Cullen (20-3-1, 9 KO), and Cyrus Pattinson (3-0, 1 KO) all take on TBA.