The show must go on this Saturday night at the SSE Arena after Dillian Whyte’s rematch with Alexander Povetkin was forced to be postponed.
Their Sky Sports Box Office show becomes a regular Sky offering, with Conor Benn now the headline attraction.
Benn (16-0, KO11) takes, what looks on paper, his toughest assignment to date, when he takes on 33-year-old German, Sebastian Formella (22-1, KO10). Benn’s WBA Continental Welterweight Title will be at stake over twelve rounds.
Benn is of course the son of the legendary ‘Dark Destroyer’ Nigel Benn, and is carving his own path in the professional ranks since turning over in April 2016.
The 24-year-old ‘Destroyer’ is a crude type of fighter, that isn’t afraid to go on the attack.
However, it was what very nearly cost him in December 2017 when he met Cedrick Peynaud over six in what looked to be a routine night for the Essex man. He would be floored twice in the opening round at York Hall, before rallying to score two knockdowns of his own in a points win.
Benn showed maturity in a rematch over ten seven months later, using controlled boxing skills on the way to a wide points win for the vacant WBA belt he still holds. Benn was last seen just over a year ago at the O2 Arena, stopping Steve Jamoye in four rounds.
His opponent at Wembley this weekend is a marked step up in class, at least to what Benn has been used to.
Formella is a former IBO champion, having scored a mild upset in defeating Thulani Mbenge on the cards in July last year. The Hamburg-man made one defence of the belt, in January this year, comfortably outpointing Roberto Arriaza in Germany.
That win led to an opportunity in America in August for the vacant WBC Silver belt, but Formella found his level as he lost every round to former world champion, Shawn Porter.
Benn’s handlers have obviously seen a chance to add a decent name onto their man’s record, but the German will still have ambitions to win here.
Prediction: Benn wants to step up to continental level and beyond, and will want to get rid of Formella here to make that ambition a reality.
Formella was routed by Shawn Porter, but lasted the distance, and I expect him to do the same here in what should be a wide points win for Conor.
Ipswich’s Fabio Wardley (9-0, KO8) takes on a man with experience against the current crop of domestic heavyweights in Ghana’s Richard Lartey (14-3, KO11).
It’s scheduled for ten. Wardley is on an eight fight knockout streak, and his last came in an impressive third round stoppage of Simon Vallily in August at Matchroom HQ.
Lartey has fought on UK shores in his last two contests, with the first a fun fourth round knockout defeat to Daniel Dubois in April 2019. He was last seen last month, losing a near shutout in a sleeper against Nathan Gorman. Lartey was mainly in survival mode for the duration of the bout.
Prediction: It would be a good statement if Wardley can remove Lartey inside schedule, but the African was barely in danger against Nathan Gorman, and handles himself well. If Lartey can weather the inevitable early storm, it will be a tough to watch Wardley points win.
The second offering at heavyweight features Alen Babic (5-0, KO5) and the Croatian looks to keep his knockout record with another early win, this time with Tom Little (10-8, KO3).
Babic has mainly feasted on small heavyweights thus far, but Little with represent a bonafide big man for him. Little has been in with some quality opposition, stopped by Filip Hrgovic, Daniel Dubois, Mahammadrasul Majidov and David Price, but does tend to go a few rounds.
Prediction: Babic is crude, and sometimes wide open, and Little will want to check the Croats chin as soon as possible. With early defeats in his last four outings, Little will want to do himself justice, but I think Babic can force a halt in around four rounds.
There is a vacant English Bantamweight Title up for grabs as Telford’s Liam Davies (7-0, KO2) takes on Liverpool’s Sean Cairns (7-2, KO1) for a belt left behind by Marc Leach.
Davies is fresh at 24, and holds a win over tricky journeyman, Brett Fidoe, in his last fight in February. Fidoe outscored Cairns in November 2018, and he also was defeated by Sean McGoldrick in his next fight over six.
Davies should be able to take the crown on the scorecards here.
Ben Ridings (3-0, KO0) gets over his disappointment of having to withdraw from Boxxer last week thanks to a positive COVID test, as he now faces a test at Super Middleweight against Jez Smith (11-2-1, KO5).
Smith is seasoned, has a draw with Macaulay McGowan on his slate, and last time out, he was competitive in a ninth round defeat to Caoimhin Agyarko at the end of July. I favour Smith to take a tight points win here.