Conor Benn’s future shines bright despite frustration at going distance with Adrian Granados

There was to be no spectacular finish this time, despite Conor Benn’s wild intent, but that lack of firework will do little to curtail his rising star. In what was supposed to be the toughest test of the Briton’s career, he bludgeoned his way to a wide unanimous decision against Adrian Granados, fighting with an instinctive and almost untamed fury, refusing to take so much as a backwards step.

The 24-year-old’s boxing career has been lived under a gifted and cursed inheritance, affording him endless possibilities and exposing him to the harshest critics. And while this performance still displayed a rudimentary streak that occasionally inhibits his talent, there can be little disputing the validity or ferocity of his credentials. In defeating a seasoned veteran like Granados, who has shared the ring with some of this era’s best, Benn has cemented his status in a gloried welterweight division fraught with danger. The champions may guarantee a new peak of peril, one that Benn may not yet be prepared for, but that in itself is a testament to his rapid ascent.

This was certainly no easy task, either. After the impossible simplicity of his win against Samuel Vargas in April, when Benn landed a stunning knockout punch in the first round, the nature of this victory proved he can conquer adversity. Initially scheduled to take place in August, the bout was postponed after Benn contracted coronavirus, with the delay threatening to throw his training camp into disarray.

What’s clear, though, is that Benn has been born for stages such as these, thriving on the raucous atmosphere at Headingley Stadium. Perhaps, their support did provoke an over eagerness in the early stages, with Benn beginning in a burst of showmanship, looping vicious right hands at Granados, searching for a stunning finish. The result was a little wild, with Benn’s lunges easily pre-empted by Granados, who used his momentum cunningly and countered to great effect – even if his punches carried nothing like the same menace.

It was a pattern that proceeded over the second and third rounds, with Benn on the front foot, exploding like a cannon into every shot, but still finding his target elusive. On a few occasions, he was able to pin the American onto the ropes and landed a whipping left hook through the guard, but Granados refused to roll over.

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By the fifth, the immense pressure Benn was producing threatened to steal the wind from Granados’ sails. The pair met in the centre ring and traded punches, with Benn landing shuddering shots to his opponent’s midriff. The full-blooded weight of the blows reverberated through Granados’ knees and down into the canvas, but still he refused to buckle and, in the sixth round, the American offered another glimpse of his own ability, showboating after a flurry of snapping counters caught Benn on the chin.

For all Benn’s potential, there are still clear weaknesses in his armoury, an unrefined anger that overrides his technical ability, often to his own detriment. In the seventh round, Granados stoked that fire expertly, taunting and mocking after each Benn right hand whistled into the Leeds night, but the American lacked the power to match the slick nature of his defence.

Benn lands on Granados

The brief pantomime was brought to a swift end in the eighth round as Benn landed a stiff right hand, and Granados’s smile did little to disguise the force. But the Briton still couldn’t find the telling blow, often smothering his own work. In the final seconds of the tenth and last round, he urged Granados forwards, desperate to finish in an explosion, but lacked the composure to light the cartridge. In truth, it matters little. Still rough around the edges, with plenty to learn, the lessons of this bout will offer an experience just as worthy as another win on his record.

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