Conor Benn demolishes Chris van Heerden in round two to send emphatic message to welterweight division


Onor Benn produced an explosive early knockout of Chris van Heerden to set another important scorer for boxing’s stacked welterweight division.

‘The Destroyer’ went 21-0 as a professional with his 14th career stoppage at Manchester’s AO Arena, delivering a typically vicious knockout with 59 seconds remaining in the second round of Saturday’s main event to defend with successful his WBA continental belt once again.

Another emphatic win sets the stage for a huge step up later this summer, with promoter Eddie Hearn having already name checked Kell Brook, Adrien Broner, Keith Thurman, Mikey Garcia and Danny Garcia.

Amir Khan was also present at the scene of his complete loss to rival Brook in February and was invited to the ring as he faced questions over a potential future showdown with Benn, having yet to announce his retirement .

It was the first time the undefeated Benn had fought a southpaw at the professional level, but it only took one spirited opening round for him to get used to the new challenge.

After a competitive first, the 25-year-old unleashed his devastating power early in the second round, injuring former IBO world champion Van Heerden with a massive right hand.

Benn then moved on for the inevitable finish, firing another volley of punches, including another right bruise to the temple which sent his South African opponent crashing to the canvas and forced the referee to cancel the procedure with one minute left in the round.

In Saturday’s undercard, Chris Billam-Smith retained the European and Commonwealth heavyweight titles with a brutal eighth round stoppage in his highly anticipated rematch against former rival Tommy McCarthy.

Campbell Hatton – son of British boxing great Ricky – picked up the seventh straight victory of his professional career over Ezequiel Gregores, producing an improved performance that was certainly not without its issues as he fought in front of a home crowd for the first time.

Impressive Alycia Baumgardner delivered a hugely impressive display to easily retain the WBC and IBO super featherweight belts she took from Terri Harper in November with a shutout victory over former unified world champion Edith Soledad Matthysse.

There was also a rebound win for Bolton super middleweight Jack Cullen, who put his shock loss to Kevin Lele Sadjo behind him as he brushed aside Vladimir Belujsky.

Early in Manchester, there was a big second-round knockout of Mariano Gudino by talented cruiserweight Jordan Thompson.

Lightweight contender Thomas Hart passed Ben Ridings, while there was a surprise draw between Luke Evans and Miguel Cesario Antin and JJ Metcalf stopped Evgenii Vazem in the fifth round.

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