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Eddie Hearn claims Chris van Heerden will be Conor Benn’s final test before he steps up to elite welterweight level

CHRIS VAN HEERDEN will be the final test for Conor Benn before he’s thrown into the “deep end” of a stacked welterweight division.

Benn – the son of British boxing great Nigel – will lock horns with the former IBO 147lb champion on Saturday night in front of a packed crowd at the Manchester Arena.

Conor Benn will face former IBO welterweight champion Chris van Heerden

South African Van Heerden is a slick southpaw


And promoter Eddie Hearn reckons a win over Van Heerden will set Benn up for some big fights

South African southpaw Van Heerden is, on paper, the toughest opponent of Benn’s burgeoning career.

And promoter Eddie Hearn believes undefeated Destroyer will be off to the races if he gets past the former champ.

The Matchroom Boxing chief told The Daily Mail: “The growth of Conor Benn is astonishing.

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“I don’t say that disrespectfully, but when I first watched him… to think he’s on the verge of a welterweight world title is incredible.

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“It’s all down to his mindset, his work ethic, the work Tony Simms has done – and obviously the genes as well, they help.

“But this is his final test before he goes into the real deep end.”

Benn has yet to face a southpaw in his professional career and Hearn believes the experience will do him the world of good.

He said: “Van Heerden is a very tough, very game, technically sound fighter, who will be there as long as he can be there.

“It will be a tremendous fight.

“You need southpaw experience when you talk the likes of Jaron Ennis, Errol Spence – all these great fighters.

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“You can’t just jump into your first-ever southpaw being Errol Spence or these kinds of guys.”

He continued: “Van Heerden, his last fight was against Jaron Ennis, on Showtime, in Ennis’ 26th fight.

“And for me, Jaron Ennis may be the best welterweight in the world.

“Now people are saying this is an easy fight for Conor Benn. I’m like, wow, now you rate him.

“A year ago people were saying he’s overhyped but now people genuinely rate him.”

Benn set his sights on a domestic dust-up with Kell Brook after the Sheffield slugger’s stunning stoppage of Amir Khan in February.

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And Hearn believes a fight with Special K – as well as showdowns with some of the big names at 147lbs – will soon be on the horizon for the 25-year-old.

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He said: “This will be his last little test before he jumps in with a Kell Brook, a Mikey Garcia, Danny Garcia, an Adrien Broner, a Keith Thurman – one of those elite names.”

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