Conor Benn takes on Peter Dobson this Saturday in a fight that is crucial for a number of reasons. It is Benn’s first time headlining a card in Las Vegas, the spiritual home of boxing. It is also just the second time ‘The Destroyer’ has boxed in 22 months. The Dobson is also a vital step in a career that stalled after a UK Anti-Doping charge nixed his proposed fight with Chris Eubank Jr at the last minute.
The 27-year-old divides opinion among boxing figures and fans. On the one hand, he has served his time. The National Anti-Doping Panel lifted his ban in July 2023. However, the fact that both the BBBoC and the body who administered the charge, the UKAD, appealed the ruling muddies the water. The BBBoC denied Benn a renewal of his license last year, when it briefly looked like the Eubank Jr fight was back on. They cited the fact they felt the investigation into his initial ban was not complete.
But however you look at it, Benn is free to fight. While his home country is off-limits for now, America has opened its arms to him. Land of the free, or so they say. So for the second time in succession, Benn will box Stateside as he looks to repair a promising but tarnished career.
The last time went well. Benn didn't get supposed-patsy Rodolfo Orozco out of there in the ten rounds they shared. But anyone who saw the sheer force, variety and volume of shots that the Mexican absorbed can acknowledge they were a testament to both his own toughness and to Benn’s freshness after 17 months off. The Brit never looked gassed and he boxed in an encouraging manner considering his time away. The train might be dented, but it is firmly back on the tracks.
While Orozco was noted for durability, having never been stopped in 36 fights, Benn’s next opponent is different. Peter Dobson is 16-0 with nine knockouts to his name. This isn’t a fighter coming to survive to the final bell. The Bronx boy will want to take a high-profile scalp from overseas. A win over Benn would strap a rocket to a career that has been mostly spent in four, six and eight-rounders. Dobson’s sole scheduled ten-rounder culminated in a unanimous decision win over tough but limited Mexican Jose Miguel Borrego.
Dobson can look a little tentative, pawing with shots as he comes forward without asserting himself. This works when boxing the sort of club fighters he has made his bones against. But against a sharp, hungry puncher like Benn, it is a recipe for disaster. ‘The Destroyer’ rips shots in, hard and fast. Any doubt creeping into the mind of the New Yorker in front of him will be enthusiastically seized upon.
Let’s be real, that’s exactly why Dobson is here. His record looks good on paper but not too good. The American has been fighting at a lower level than Benn. The Greenwich man was on a roll before his drug test failure. He blasted out Samuel Vargas in a single round, went 12 gritty but educational rounds with top veteran Adrian Granados, knocked off former world champion Chris Algieri and wiped out long-time contender Chris van Heerden.
The ban has seen the level of competition dialled back. But if Benn does what he should here, the tests should get tougher. ‘The Destroyer’ is ranked fifth in the WBC world ratings. While champion Terence Crawford might seem a world away from Benn’s capabilities at the moment, a shot at greatness must be in his plan somewhere.
The first step on that path takes place on Saturday. Given the lax manner in which Dobson attacks, I can see Benn seizing upon him with gusto. My pick is a Benn win via stoppage in rounds 4-6, an outcome that is priced up at 16/5. The Benn rebuild has begun and Dobson doesn’t have the attributes to end it just yet.
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