The acceleration in Conor Benn’s progress as a fighter is, frankly, astonishing. Samuel Vargas is not Carmen Basilio, but he’s rugged, durable and still held aspiration. He was obliterated in 90 seconds by a 24-year old with the patter of a superstar and a magnetic persona to match.
Vargas protested the stoppage, Colombian’s from the North American circuit expect to box on unless they’re laid out flat, but a degree of compassion will serve him well in the long run. There was the sense Vargas let the enemy in through the front door and Benn ran rampantly through the opening. Right hands, uppercuts and left hooks. Vargas’ eyes looked to the lights, the end would have followed had Michael Alexander not intervened.
For Benn, as with all prospects, contenders, matchmaking is key. If left to the protagonist, it will be ambitious.
Expectation was for rounds to pass, for Benn to need to control his innate urgency, and to box and develop openings. To anticipate a distant fight, with a greater degree of offensive threat from his opponent than Sebastian Formula had provided. A fighter Benn had controlled with his jab and a fizzing left hook. Then Benn connected, Vargas stepped back and Benn simply kept throwing punches.
His post fight interview continued the theme of the action. Benn bristled with intent, embraced the names of Amir Khan, Kel Brook, Shawn Porter and Adrian Broner the way barbed wire embraced Steve McQueen. Tore at them. Menaced. Charisma flows through everything he does. Not invented. Not contrived. Pure. Natural and electrifying.
The transformation during the past year of lockdown has been sensational. He still needs tougher rounds to measure him and season the mix. A temptation to gamble, to risk all, will be hard to resist such is his exponential progress but if he can hold a shot and continue he will prove an exciting addition to a Welterweight division laden with talent and yet soporific in its intent.
At his best, dad Nigel, was a tough fight for anyone. But he co-existed with greats he never met in Toney, Jones Jnr and Nunn. It would be a shame if history repeated itself for Conor with Spence, Crawford and co, but it would also be a shame if he was propelled toward them too soon too.
Matchmaking. It’s an art form.