After turning down the opportunity to have dinner with Yordenis Ugas, Conor Benn hopes they can meet again in the ring later this year.
Ugas (27-4, 12 KOs), 35, puts his WBA welterweight belt on the line versus WBC-IBF champion Errol Spence (27-0, 21 KOs), 32, in a world title unification fight at the AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas, on Saturday. Just a few hours after, Benn continues his development against Chris van Heerden at the Manchester Arena, England.
Benn (20-0, 13 KOs), who was raised in Spain and Australia and moved to Essex, England, is the son of Nigel Benn — the world middleweight and supermiddleweight champion in the 1990s — and has made rapid progress over the last two years.
The 25-year-old travelled to Las Vegas recently for sparring, but claims Miami-based Cuban Ugas turned down the chance to spar him and instead invited him to dinner. “When I was out in Vegas recently, we tried to make the sparring with Ugas because me and Ugas speak,” Benn said.
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“He kept saying we would spar, he knows the score and knows what was going on but we ended up sparring [Yuriorkis] Gamboa and he had to get pulled out of the spar. Bearing in mind I wasn’t even in training camp but he had to get pulled out because he was beginning to get a bit of a pasting.
“Ugas was there and after he was inviting me out for dinner with him and his missus. I thought: ‘That’s a bit odd,’ I look at that and think ‘I fancy my chances.’ If he does beat Spence, which I believe is not likely, but it is a fight I’d love in the future.
“I didn’t take him up on dinner. I told him I was busy but as I was walking through the casino, I see him and his missus having food and I went over to say hello and thought ‘That couldn’t have gone anymore awkward really.’
“It’s not that we are from the same country or live the same lifestyle so I was thinking ‘Why does he want me to go to dinner?’ What are we going to do? Sit there and stare at each other. I found it very odd. I don’t know what his motive was.
“I would love to do it for real. I want to test myself against the best in the division. Every challenge they put in front of me I come through it. I’m top five in every governing body and No. 1 in Britain.”
Benn is closing in on a world title shot which he hopes to get later this year or in 2023, as long as he defeats California-based Van Heerden (28-2-1, 12 KOs), a southpaw from South Africa.
Benn added: “I’ve done a lot of southpaw sparring and I love challenges, I love overcoming them. I think I have shown in my last few performances that I can beat any style put in front of me. I think I fill him in, to be honest. I’m prepared for a hard fight.”
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