Conor Benn v Chris Algieri: Briton steeled against upset after past mistake

By Coral BarryBBC Sport
Conor Benn climbs up the ropes to celebrate with the crowd
Conor Benn is back in action this Saturday against Chris Algieri in Liverpool
Conor Benn v Chris Algieri
Venue: M&S Bank Arena, Liverpool Date: 11 December
Coverage: Commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live from 21.30; text commentary on the BBC Sport website & app.

It has been a year of upsets and shocks in the boxing ring.

Champions have fallen across the divisions, and Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn has watched aghast at ringside as some of his biggest fighters have relinquished their titles.

Unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua was convincingly beaten by Oleksandr Usyk. Kid Galahad was stripped of his IBF featherweight title by Spanish veteran Kiko Martinez. WBC super-featherweight champion Terri Harper was stopped cold by American underdog Alycia Baumgardner.

Another huge upset - unified lightweight champion Teofimo Lopez's defeat by George Kambosos Jr - was also on a Matchroom show promoted by Hearn.

But Conor Benn has been a surprise hit from the Hearn stable. The son of the legendary Nigel Benn, he has excelled in the past 18 months to come within touching distance of world level.

Benn has fought twice - and won twice - this year, with a first-round knockout of Samuel Vargas in April followed by an assured 12-round display against Adrian Granados in September.

He has his sights fixed on a world title fight in 2022 but must first take on former world champion Chris Algieri in Liverpool on Saturday - topping the bill ahead of undisputed lightweight champion Katie Taylor.

At 25, and with 19 wins under his belt, Benn is on the cusp of career-defining fights - and he has no plans to be the latest boxer to fall foul of an upset on home soil.

"My main objective is Chris Algieri, and if I don't get past him, everything else is on a slippery slope," he told BBC Sport.

"I never take my eye off the ball. I did that once and got dropped twice in the first round [against Cedrick Peynaud in 2017]. I managed to get up and drop him twice. I won't ever do it again.

"I had my holiday booked for Miami, thought it would be a lovely little pay day before Christmas, and wallop, on the deck.

"That's where that experience comes from. In this sport, it's about learning and evolving. I'm continuously evolving."

'I want to be a good dad'

Benn's life has changed dramatically in the past 12 months - the arrival of his first child, Eli, coinciding with the best year of his career to date.

"It gives me butterflies in my stomach because I haven't had time to reflect on everything that has gone on this year," he said.

"Having my son has made me realise there's more to life than boxing. I'm responsible for this little guy. I don't want him to have the difficulties I had growing up, and I don't mean financially."

Benn says his priority now is to be a "good dad" to his son.

"I don't fight for financial reasons," he said. "I want to make sure I'm there for him.

"In this sport, I can be sitting in the room with him and not be in the room with him because it will be leading up to a fight.

"Sometimes you have to have certain things happen in your life to realise boxing isn't the be all and end all."

Algieri is a 'risky fight'

Chris Algieri punches his opponent
Chris Algieri was a WBO champion at junior welterweight

Aged 37 and with 28 fights on his record, Algieri has been selected as another stern test for Benn.

The American beat Briton Tommy Coyle in 2019, with his three losses coming against Errol Spence Jr in 2016, Amir Khan in 2015 and Manny Pacquiao in 2014.

He may be past his prime but has mixed with the best in the division, which is dominated by Americans Errol Spence Jr and Terence Crawford, though Cuban Yordenis Ugas holds the WBA (Super) belt.

Benn would be the underdog against any of those three fighters, and knows Algieri is a "risky fight".

"You don't get given a world title for nothing," he said. "He's crafty, well-educated. He's a top, seasoned pro who knows all the tricks of the trade.

"What can I from him? What can I gain from him? That's how I look at it. When I get in there, I learn.

"I'll pick up what he's doing, why he's doing it, what he's looking for. I've become a student of the game of boxing."

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