THIS week saw boxing return to prime time in America. Britain will have to wait till next month, with promoters in the UK gearing up for a comeback in late July.
Conor Benn is in the frame to headline Matchroom’s first show back. He is currently waiting for confirmation on the date and opponent. The son of British boxing legend Nigel, Conor has been in lockdown and training with his father, and he is ready to fight in July. “I’ve tried to keep myself busy and active so I don’t go mad. Some people have found this is a time to relax, reflect,” Conor told Boxing News. “Boxing will pick back up. Boxing will pick back up where it left off in my opinion. Boxing’s one of those things everybody loves to watch. Eddie Hearn’s changed the game of boxing. Boxing will pick back up, I don’t think boxing will change at all. There may be a few guidelines that we will need to abide by for the following year, two years, three years, however long it is. But it will get back to normal, the same as everything else in the world. Everything will start returning.
“Boxing is modern day gladiators. That’s what it is. People love it. It’s an entertaining sport.”
At the start of this month he was able to restart training at Tony Sims’ gym and is already sparring with his stablemates. “Back in training so we’re still getting the work in,” Benn said. “We’ve all been tested, we take certain precautions and make sure we’re all safe in the gym. Make sure we have certain times to be in and out… We’ve got a good stable of boys that we can all spar each other.”
He will be ready to box when confirmation comes, with Ashley Theophane, Bradley Skeete and Chris Jenkins, the British and Commonwealth welterweight champion, possible opponents. “A fight’s a fight. The time will come and it all just falls into place. It’ll all come. It’s like second nature,” Benn said. “As long as it’s a meaningful fight and it propels my career, then I’m all for that.”
Benn’s career so far has been fought in front of a vociferous crowd. That will be absent in Matchroom’s outdoor ‘Fight Camp’ shows, due to coronavirus restrictions. “I don’t really think about it. A fight’s a fight. I’m not going to start putting doubts or fear into my head,” he said. “No one’s with me when I’m doing my hour and a half runs, no one’s with me when I’m doing this. It’s a lonely sport.
“How can you prepare for it. They haven’t even experienced it themselves. We’ll just all turn up and see what happens.”
“The way 2020’s gone, who could have thought it would have gone like this? All I can do is keep training and keep active. If a fight presents itself with the right opponent I’ll fight. But I can’t put a finger on how many fights I’m going to have this year,” he added. “I’d love to fight five times but I don’t know.
“We’ve just got to wait and see.”