Conor Benn braced for the unknown against Peter Dobson

“I don’t watch my opponents,” said Conor Benn.

One suspects Benn would be able to say a lot more had his proposed fight with Chris Eubank Jr been this weekend, but as it stands, he can’t say much about New York’s Peter Dobson because he has not seen much of him.

“I wish I could give you a bit more,” Benn lamented. “I don’t ever watch my opponents. It’s just that I don’t focus on what they do; I believe I’ll get in there and I can figure them out, pretty much instantly; [for instance] ‘His left hand’s low; he drops his right hand’. I figure them out because I prepare for all outcomes anyway. I’m prepared for someone coming in to change his life, and that’s what that fight is for me.”

And that is just it for Benn. Had it been a big name at 147lbs, or Eubank Jr, he would know far more. Now, he recognises things are different, because he chooses not to study the tape.

“These fights I get more nervous about,” the 27 year old said. “These fights make me nervous… Unknown quantity. Nothing to lose. Those are the people who can be that banana skin, so I make sure I’m on the ball.”

Benn has not been able to hide his disappointment that he is not in a bigger fight. So many big names have spoken about fighting him, and while not wanting to disrespect Dobson, having previously defeated Chris Algieri and Chris van Heerden, his two most recent opponents – Rodolfo Orozco and the 33-year-old Dobson – do not represent the march to a title he had been on. But he thinks he will impress his American audience on Saturday.

“Nine times out of 10 – 10 out of 10 – I deliver and I do what I say I’m going to do,” he continued. “I make sure that I make it look easy; I make sure that I make the opponents look like what they are. The rest is up to them [his team] to make the big fights. So is it a little bit of a step back [fighting Peter Dobson]? Yes. Am I excited to be out? Yes. 

“But my goal is to make these fights look like the fights that they are, and although it can be challenging getting up at three or four in the morning, and training for a guy like this… He’s still in the way of them fights happening anywhere.”

Benn had a tough 10-round fight with Orozco in September following his well-documented hiatus after two positive PED tests. Orozo subsequently failed a test of his own, but Benn said he increasingly views Orozco’s test through a different prism.

“I can’t jump the gun with it,” Benn said. “It has changed my view on it because when anyone said they’d failed a test, I was like, ‘Alright, no smoke without fire, mate’. That was the way I used to think about it before. Now it’s more benefit of the doubt. Wait until you see the science. They can solve murder cases from 50 years ago through science – are you telling me they can’t tell me if there are any abnormalities in my body for the past six months? Or the past year? So, science always tells the truth. 

“That’s why I spent a fortune on scientists; flying them out to America; flying them in from Germany. Science don’t lie, and I’m praying my opponent is innocent. Who knows? But I do believe the benefit of the doubt should be given.”

Benn had blasted out Algieri and Van Heerden, but he later struggled to put a dent in Orozco.

“I just thought it was like I was in with the terminator in there,” the 22-0 contender said. “It was weird because I was hitting him and it looked like he was ‘Gone’, and then he was alright. And then it was, ‘He’s gone; no he ain’t’. There were numerous moments of them throughout the fight but it didn’t dishearten me. He got a beating for the distance.”

Some said Benn laboured to victory. He saw it as a rust-shedding exercise and was not hyper-critical.

“I boxed perfectly fine,” Benn concluded. “I barely put a foot wrong. I landed my shots that I needed to land. After rounds four and five, I took my time, took a couple of rounds off – maybe a round off – and just done what I needed to do in there. He was a big strong guy, but there was a real mental thing for me. The whole time I was there was just a real mental thing for me. [The hiatus and being back in the ring] was heavy on me.”