Chris Oliver looks ahead to Conor Benn's next step up the ladder on Saturday and feels he might have to wait for a decision from the judges.
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It may have been bad news for the fans that Dillian Whyte's rematch with Alexander Povetkin was postponed this weekend, but it was good news for Conor Benn who now gets the chance to shine as a headliner at the Wembley Arena.
Son of British boxing legend Nigel, this could be the first real opportunity in beginning to step out of his father's huge shadow, but he will need to be the real deal to get past Sebastian Formella, who represents a major step up in class.
Having turned professional in 2016 with very little amateur experience, Benn has been learning on the job ever since and remains very much a work in progress, albeit it an exciting one.
The 24-year-old quickly gained a reputation for being a chip off the old block with his eagerness for a tear-up and carrying power in both hands, but his defensive skills were lacking and this was highlighted in his up-and-down war with the little known Cedrick Peynaud in 2017, when many thought he was lucky to be awarded the decision for an 11th straight success.
That may have been the wake-up call he needed as the improvements since have been noticeable, firstly overcoming a hand injury to box his way to a unanimous decision win in the return with the Frenchman, and then sticking to that more measured approach with a shut-out victory on the scorecards against Josef Zahradnik.
Forced into a scrap by the aggressive Jussi Koivula in June last year, he answered the questions with an impressive second-round stoppage of the usually durable visitor and then produced arguably his most complete performance yet when halting Steve Jamoye in four rounds when last seen 13 months ago.
However, his upward curve will need to continue if he's to extend his record to 17-0, as Formella went the distance with top-class former world champion Shawn Porter in August when losing his unbeaten record.
Although he lost every round against the American, he gave a decent account of himself and that form reads very well in the context of this bout.
Prior to that he won and successfully defended the lightly-regarded IBO welterweight strap against Thulani Mbenge and Roberto Arriaza respectively, both of whom are better than any of the names on Benn's record.
The German boasts a clear edge in experience and he's entitled to be a little surprised to be a 2/1 underdog here, with the money coming for Benn this week forcing the home fighter into a best price 1/2 at the time of writing.
The 33-year-old Formella has good feet and moves really well, constantly circling and looking to pot shot on the outside, something the taller man will surely look to do against his more aggressive foe again this weekend.
He likes to take the sting out of his opponent's attack before he is willing to engage, but even then it is only sporadically and his legs remain his main tool, not his fists.
This moving target could prove frustrating for the favourite, especially early doors, and Benn will have to be careful not to just follow his man around the ring, which would play into the hands of the counter-puncher in the opposite corner.
Benn has been making more use of his nice jab more recently, which he mixes up well to body and head, and this could prove a vital weapon in his bid to slow down the fleet-footed visitor, as well as set up his bigger shots.
That could be the key to the fight as Formella never looks too comfortable on the rare occasions he holds his feet and trades, often leaving his chin out to dry when he does.
Up close is where the 'Destroyer' wants the action as he boasts a clear advantage in power and should be able to score heavily when in range, but it's a matter of how often those opportunities will arise against such a defence-minded opponent.
There is a fine line between good match-making and stepping a prospect up too soon, but there are a couple of reasons that make me believe this could be a case of the former.
Firstly, it's unlikely Eddie Hearn would have moved his man so steeply up in class against a noted puncher and he will be fully aware that Formella puts very little into his shots, due to him being constantly on the move and rarely sitting down on his punches.
That means he could struggle to keep Benn off, and the mental and physical pressure could really take its toll if the expected aggressor is allowed to march forward all night long with little or no fear of what is coming back.
Secondly, Formella's negative style may not prove too popular with the judges and he might have to win very clearly in order to get the nod if it goes to the scorecards, especially with the Matchroom shows in the UK developing a reputation for 'home cooking'.
The judges look likely to be called upon as it would be some statement for Benn to halt Formella if Porter, who is still a class operator and a very sturdy puncher, couldn't get him out of there just three months ago, and it's hard to see the German inflicting enough damage to get an early night.
Benn by decision has come in to 11/10 in recent days, but it looks the most likely outcome and the younger man is taken to prevail in an invaluable learning fight.
On the undercard, Fabio Wardley and Alen Babic are both 1/14 shots for their bouts with against Richard Lartey and Tom Little respectively and the two heavyweight contests should be fun while they last.
Both the favourites are very much offensively-minded and have willing dance partners so expect plenty of action, but finding some value is tricky here and it may be best to just sit back enjoy the big boys go to work.
Posted at 1900 GMT on 19/11/20