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Is Conor Benn a contender or a pretender? Will he succeed like father Nigel Benn or go the way of Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.?

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conor-benn-matchroom-ftr Matchroom Boxing

Conor Benn headlines another Matchroom Boxing card on Saturday when he continues his attempted rise through the welterweight ranks against Samuel Vargas. The son of the legendary 'Dark Destroyer' Nigel Benn certainly receives more profile and hype than other fighters under Eddie Hearn's umbrella at around the same level, but is the fanfare justified?

Benn recently said that if he gets past Vargas, he wants to move on to big British names and former world champions Amir Khan and Kell Brook before ultimately challenging for a 147lbs title of his own. And the thought of Benn getting the big fights in the near future led to another entertaining dispute between the co-hosts of 'Jabs' on DAZN, Chris Mannix and former WBC light-middleweight champion Sergio Mora.

It all started with the simple question: Will the second-generation Benn prove to be a contender or a pretender?

"Neither," answered Mora. "I think they’re moving him at just the right rate.

"They’re moving him in a diligent manner and that’s what you need to do with a fighter without amateur experience. He’s passing the tests and there’s a bright future. He can be a contender but he’s not there yet. He’s a potential contender."

This measured and somewhat diplomatic response brought out a more beligerent response from Mannix.

"Then that means he’s a pretender until proven to be a contender at some point," argued the journalist.

"Right now he’s following the Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. path. The son of a Mexican legend was tactically moved along by Top Rank so he had a title and was beloved by the time he was outclassed by Sergio Martinez.

"I see similarities between he and Conor, not in fighting style but in the way they’re brought along. Benn’s last win came against Sebastian Formella. People say they know that name but they know that name because Shawn Porter wiped the mat with him.

"Everyone’s saying Samuel Vargas is dangerous but Benn should be able to cruise through him. I love his popularity and he will sell tickets but it will take a lot more for me to believe Benn is a contender."

Mora bit back, saying: "Mannix, you love being wrong and you do not know the difference between Benn after 17 fights and Chavez Jr. after what, almost 50 fights before he finally fought a somebody.

"I think Benn’s doing exactly what he needs to do with no amateur experience and he’s evolving nicely. You cannot compare him to Chavez Jr. He can be a future champion, he may not be as great as his father but he can definitely be a future contender."

So, what will it be for young Conor? Can he realistically go on to send the likes of Khan and Brook into retirement, or can Vargas show signs of weakness in his game before he even reaches the pinnacle? Find out on Saturday when Benn vs. Vargas airs live on Sky Sports in the UK and Ireland, and DAZN everywhere else except Australia, New Zealand and China.

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