Conor Benn took a step closer to a world title shot with a wonderful knockout display to beat Chris Algieri in four rounds in Liverpool.
The 25-year-old Briton produced a calm and clinical performance against the American former world champion, who had been billed as his toughest test yet.
“My point is they’re not tests,” a riled up Benn said after the fight.
“Every time I say they’re not sounds like arrogance but it’s just confidence speaking.”
Benn, who remains undefeated with the 20th win of his career, showed off some superb body shots and ended the fight with a straight left, right combination.
“When I say I’m top five, I’m top five for a reason,” Benn added.
“No-one’s done that to Algieri. No-one’s beat [Adrian] Granados as easily as I did. No-one knocked out [Samuel] Vargas in one round. What more do I have to do?
“I knew the knockout was coming. If they want to come and have a fight or stand there and be cute, that’s what happens.”
Benn produces career-best display
Benn has built a career on silencing his critics and has exceeded expectations as the son of world champion Nigel Benn.
The Briton is certainly improving with every fight and showed off visible improvements in his third outing in the ring in 2021.
Benn started well, taking the first round with ease as he concentrated on body shots and built from his jab.
Algieri, 37, was trying to counter Benn with a left hook from the opening exchanges but Benn appeared unconcerned.
Benn then dropped an unbalanced Algieri in the second round with a close-range left hook. The American seemed unhurt as he returned to his corner, but there was no rush of blood to the head of Benn.
He remained calm in the third and slowly began to look for the bigger shots. Benn then ducked under a combination from Algieri – much to the delight of the crowd and his father at ringside.
Benn continued to look for openings and produced the best moment of his career with a beautiful left hand straight down the pipe before a hard right floored his opponent.
Algieri was out cold from the right hand, folding to the canvas in what was a perfect end to the year for Benn.
“I think this is the fight where Conor made his own path,” Benn’s father Nigel said. “He’s not in my shadow no more.”
What next for Benn?
Benn has the world at his feet and is clearly desperate for a bigger challenger. Algieri may be disappointed to be so convincingly blown away by Benn, but he came up against a rising star in fine form.
Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn is keen for Benn to fight American contender Adrien Broner next, while his welterweight is eager to take on domestic rivals Amir Khan and Kell Brook.
Brook and Khan will settle their 17-year feud in February and although Hearn is reluctant to pursue either man for Benn, his fighter clearly has other ideas.
“Either get me Khan or Brook,” he said.
“I see them talking about it. I ain’t even mentioned it. I didn’t call out Brook because we’re pals.
“If they don’t want it then we’ll fight Broner in America. If Broner don’t want it then I fancy my chances against [WBA Super champion Yordenis] Ugas.”
Yordenis Ugas holds the WBA (Super) belt and would be the challenge Benn seeks with a 27-4 record and the man to finally send legend Manny Pacquiao into retirement earlier this year.
Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live moments after his win, Benn reiterated he was ready to step up to world title level.
“If Eddie brought me Ugas now, I’d fight him,” he said. “I’m a different fighter now, I’ll be even better next fight, I’m always growing, always learning.
“I’m top five. I’m definitely the best fighter in Britain.”
British fight fans will want to see Benn step in the ring with Brook or Khan and the London fighter might even be considered a favourite against either man.
But it does seem unlikely Khan or Brook will continue after their February fight and with Hearn’s sights apparently set on Broner, do not be surprised to see Benn fighting overseas next year.