Conor Benn prepares for his ascension from prospect to contender.
The second-generation boxer kicks off his 2022 campaign with a scheduled twelve-round welterweight bout versus South Africa’s Chris van Heerden (28-2-1, 12KOs). Both boxers made weight for their DAZN main event which takes place Saturday evening at AO Arena in Manchester, England.
Benn (20-0, 13KOs), Ilford, Essex, weighed a rock solid 146.5 pounds, while van Heerden weighed a lean and fit 145.8 pounds for his first career fight in the United Kingdom.
The fight comes four months after Benn—the son of legendary, former two-division champ Nigel Benn—registered a highlight reel fourth-round knockout of former junior welterweight titlist Chris Algieri last December in Liverpool. Benn was extended the ten-round distance in twice in the span of three fights preceding his sensational win over Algieri, now with aspirations of challenging top tier welterweights in the year ahead.
The well-respected van Heerden has not fought since a one-round No-Decision with unbeaten welterweight contender Jaron 'Boots’ Ennis in December 2020. The fight was the lone piece of ring action for the 6’1” southpaw since the pandemic, whose prior fight was an eight-round, unanimous decision win over Aslanbek Kozaev in August 2019 in Los Angeles, where he now lives after relocating from South Africa more than eight years ago.
A late addition to the show bears the show’s lone major title fight.
Alycia Baumgardner (11-1, 7KOs) makes the first defense of her WBC/IBO junior lightweight title reign as she faces Argentina’s Edith Soledad Matthysse (17-11-1, 1KO) in a scheduled ten-round bout.
Baumgardner checked in at a chiseled 129.4 pounds, while Matthysse—who accepted the fight on less than one week’s notice—was well over the limit at 133.6 pounds. The fight will proceed in present form, with Baumgardner due to retain her title status regardless of the outcome Saturday evening.
The fight is the first for Baumgardner since her sensational fourth-round knockout of unbeaten titlist Terri Harper last November 13 in Sheffield, England. An explosive right hand left Harper out on her feet, with Baumgardner—who hails from the greater Detroit area—picking up the huge road win and now back in the United Kingdom for her first title defense. A win will likely set up a title unification bout with long-reigning WBA titleholder Hyun Mi Choi (19-0-1, 5KOs) in the coming months.
In the evening’s co-feature, Chris Billiam-Smith (14-1, 10KOs), of Bournemouth, Dorset weighed 199.5 pounds for his scheduled 12-round cruiserweight bout with Belfast’s Tommy McCarthy (18-3, 9KOs), who was also 199.5 pounds for their rematch. Billiam-Smith claimed a split decision win in their first fight last July 31 in Brentwood, Essex.
Campbell Hatton (6-0, 2KOs) is scheduled for a six-round lightweight bout versus Lee Glover (11-9, 3KOs), the latter who was stuck in traffic and unable to attend the official weigh-in. Both will weigh in later in the day for their DAZN opener, with the telecast set to begin at 7:00 p.m. local time/2:00 p.m. ET.
Below are the weights for the rest of the undercard, with select bouts airing on DAZN’s ‘Before The Bell’ series (5:45 p.m. local time/12:45 p.m. ET).
Jack Cullen (20-3-1, 9KOs), Little Lever, Lancashire, 171.7 pounds vs. Vladimir Belujsky (12-3-1, 8KOs), Kezmarok, Slovakia, 172.7 pounds—6 rounds, light heavyweight
Jordan Thompson (12-0, 10KOs), Manchester, 197 pounds vs. Mariano Angel Gudino (14-5, 9KOs), Cordoba, Argentina, 199.9 pounds—8 rounds, cruiserweights
Cyrus Pattinson (3-0, 1KO), Newcastle, 148.9 pounds vs. Alexey Tukhtarov (5-28-6, 3KOs), Southampton, 1523.1 pounds—8 rounds, junior middleweight
Thomas Whittaker Hart (6-0, 3KOs), Liverpool, 175.3 pounds vs. Ben Ridings (5-1, 0KOs), Bury, Lancashire, 174.1 pounds—8 rounds, light heavyweight
Luke Evans (11-0, 1KO), Salford, Lancashire, 140.7 pounds vs. Miguel Cesario Antin (19-10, 8KOs), Trelew, Argentina, 141.3 pounds—6 rounds, junior welterweight
JJ Metcalf (21-2, 13KOs), Liverpool, 163.2 pounds vs. Evgenil Vazem (9-26, 4KOs), Serov, Russia, 159.2 pounds—6 rounds, middleweight
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox