The undefeated ‘Destroyer’ needed less than four minutes to emphatically stop former IBO world champion Van Heerden in Manchester on Saturday night, improving his professional record to 21-0 as he laid down another marker in one of boxing’s deepest divisions on the same night as Errol Spence Jr and Yordenis Ugas collide in a 147lbs unification bout in Texas.
Benn’s destruction of the veteran South African southpaw – which followed wins over the likes of Chris Algieri, Adrian Granados and Samuel Vargas – appeared to herald the final fight of his development phase, with the WBA continental champion now poised for a considerable step up in class later in 2022.
Benn looks set to return to his native London after fighting in Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds over the last seven months, though a high-profile domestic showdown with either Kell Brook or Amir Khan seems unlikely for now.
Rather, promoter Hearn once again namechecked the likes of Mikey Garcia, Danny Garcia, Keith Thurman and Adrien Broner as potential next opponents for the 25-year-old as he bids to move one step closer to his world title dream.
“He’s going to go on and become a world champion, now we’ve got to step up the opposition,” Matchroom chief Hearn told DAZN.
“He’s had a great development, Vargas, Granados, Algieri, Van Heerden. Now it’s time for the more serious players in the division.
“It won’t be Amir Khan next, he won’t be around until the end of the year. I’m talking about Mikey Garcia, Danny Garcia, Keith Thurman, Adrien Broner, all these guys. David Avanesyan.
“We want a big fight, we want a marquee fight and finally take him back to London to fill up that beautiful O2 as well. It’s been a brilliant journey on the road with Conor Benn.
“He’s a superstar and he’s really, really good. We would take a lot of these top guys now.
“You’ve got to understand the route that we’re on, we know what we’re doing. The progression has been perfect, but it’s time for a serious test this summer.”