Conor Benn will defend his WBA Continental Welterweight Title against South Africa’s Chris Van Heerden at the AO Arena in Manchester on Saturday April 16.
‘The Destroyer’ (20-0, 13 KOs) secured a stunning knockout win over former World Champion Chris Algieri last time out in December, taking out the American with a brutal right hand in the fourth round of their top of the bill clash at the M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool.
The 25-year-old contender from Essex holds top ten rankings with the WBA, WBO and IBF after notching three wins during a breakout 2021 – and the British star believes that 2022 will be an even bigger year for him as he works towards a World Title shot.
‘The Heat’ (28-2-1, 12 KOs), born in Johannesburg, South Africa, previously held the IBO Welterweight World Title from 2011 until 2013, beating Kaizer Mabuza, Sebastian Andres Lujan and Matthew Hatton during his Title reign.
Now residing in Santa Monica, California, USA the 34-year-old southpaw is eager to test himself against one of the fastest rising Welterweights in world boxing and should provide valuable rounds having only been stopped once by Errol Spence in 32 fights.
A huge undercard sees Bournemouth’s European Cruiserweight Champion Chris Billam-Smith (14-1, 10 KOs) rematch Belfast’s former champion Tommy McCarthy (18-3, 9 KOs) following their epic back and forth battle at the Matchroom HQ last summer.
‘The Gentleman’ withstood a late fightback from McCarthy as he edged out a narrow split points decision to add the British and European Cruiserweight Titles to his Commonwealth Title, before defending his EBU crown with a points win over Dylan Bregeon in Sheffield.
Manchester Super-Featherweight contender Zelfa Barrett (27-1, 16 KOs) looks to build on his impressive IBF World Title Eliminator win over Australia’s Bruno Tarimo on the Parker vs. Chisora 2 undercard when he challenges European Champion Faroukh Kourbanov (19-3, 3 KOs) – a former opponent of Joe Cordina.
Hard hitting Cruiserweight talent Jordan Thompson (12-0, 10 KOs) has scored two big first round knockouts since putting pen to paper on a promotional deal with Eddie Hearn last June, and the 28-year-old from Manchester will be out to impress his home fans again as he works towards his first Title shot in 2022.
Hyde Lightweight prospect Campbell Hatton (6-0, 2 KOs) quickly returns to action after earning the best win of his career over Joe Ducker last month, Little Lever’s Jack Cullen (20-3-1, 9 KOs) aims to bounce back from his stoppage loss to Kevin Lele Sadjo in December and Alnwick Welterweight Cyrus Pattinson (3-0, 1 KO) hopes to make it two wins from two fights in 2022.
“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 me and my team 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 faced 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 he 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.”
“Sometimes it takes 10 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.”
“Conor Benn is fast becoming one of the biggest stars in British Boxing and he faces by far the toughest test of his career to date when he takes on Chris Van Heerden in Manchester on April 16,” said Matchroom Sport Chairman Eddie Hearn. “Van Heerden has mixed at the very highest level and faced fearsome Welterweight ‘Boots’ Ennis last time out before the fight was ruled a no contest due to a clash of heads – he always comes to fight, and I expect a gruelling battle for Conor. We are building an action-packed card and already announce the rematch of one of the Fight of the Year contender between Chris Billam-Smith and Tommy McCarthy and local star Zelfa Barrett challenges for the European Title. I expect another blistering statement from Conor Benn live worldwide on DAZN.”
“We are excited to welcome back one of the brightest prospects in boxing, Conor Benn, to the platform when he takes on former IBO Welterweight Champion Chris Van Heerden on April 16,” said Ed Breeze, EVP Rights at DAZN. “This is another huge test for Conor as he continues his quest to capture a World Title in 2022. We pride ourselves in having the best schedule in boxing, and with the announce of this matchup in April and early May you will see Canelo Alvarez, Ryan Garcia, GGG, Taylor vs. Serrano and Conor all fighting live on DAZN.”