Eddie Hearn, promoter for unbeaten welterweight contender Conor Benn, indicates that veteran Chris Van Heerden will be the final test before colliding with the bigger names at 147-pounds.

Benn will face Van Heerden this Saturday night at the Manchester Arena.

Van Heerden has only been stopped once, in 2015, when Errol Spence put him away in eight rounds.

Hearn slams down the critics who view Van Heerden as an easy fight.

"The growth of Conor Benn is astonishing. 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," Hearn told The Daily Mail. "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.

"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. 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 had tried to get fights with Kell Brook, Amir Khan and Adrien Broner, with Hearn explaining that they simply wanted too much money.

Following the upcoming fight with Van Heerden, Hearn will attempt to get his man in the ring with a big name.

"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," Hearn said.