Conor Benn retained his WBA Continental welterweight title with a clear, unanimous decision over Adrian Granados at Headingley in Leeds on Saturday evening. Benn, now 19-0, 12 KOs, was frustrated by Granados at times and, although it wasn’t the destructive win he wanted, it should be one that sets him in good stead for the future. The scorecards read 100-90, 99-91 and 97-93.
The clash was originally meant to headline the first instalment of Matchroom’s Fight Camp in July before Benn tested positive for Covid-19. ‘The Destroyer’ entered the bout off the back of two good wins over Sebastian Formella and Samuel Vargas, but the expectation was Granados, now 21-9-3, 15 KOs, was going to give him rounds and provide a significant test, having shared the ring with the likes of Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter.
It proved to be the case as Granados started the quicker, whilst Benn sent out some early missiles to test his range. The Ilford man was looking to end matters with every blow, as neither man appeared interested in easing their way into the contest. Granados fired back early in the second, but wasn’t putting a dent in Benn, who was continually stalking ‘El Tigre’.
Benn began the third behind the jab and landed with a solid right hand. But Granados had now settled and was beginning to fancy his chances. Another right from Benn landed, but Granados shot back at the end of the third. Benn pressed forward, getting through with a right but he still couldn’t shake Granados, who was also finding the target, as Benn left himself open at times.
The Englishman was really working the body now, in full seek and destroy mode, but Granados stayed on the move, steering out of real danger and still getting his own shots through. The pace had slowed after six rounds and, although he kept launching in big shots, Benn appeared frustrated, as he was unable to pin the crafty Granados down.
As the eighth round came, Granados seemed more than content to just jab and move, whilst Benn simply followed. Right hands flew in from Benn but only one truly connected. Benn had a better ninth, but Granados’ survival skills are well honed and Benn had to settle for a points win and an important lesson from the veteran, despite his best efforts in the final round.
Maxi Hughes ripped the IBO lightweight title from the grasp of Jovanni Straffon, widely outpointing his Mexican foe 120-107 (twice) and 119-109 on the cards. Straffon, who starched James Tennyson inside a round back in May to claim the title, simply had no answer for Hughes, who was excellent from start to finish.
Hughes, now 24-5-2, 5 KOs, has been in a rich vein of form since the global pandemic hit. His past three wins have seen him upset the odds and become British champion last time out. He rightly came into this clash with the dangerous Straffon (24-4-1, 17 KOs) full of confidence.
He stayed behind the jab well in the first, avoiding some wild swings from the Mexican. Some good work to the body followed in the second and continued into the third, as Straffon began to show early signs of frustration. The left hand of Hughes had also began to breach Straffon’s defences with regularity.
A big left hand from Hughes in the fifth had Straffon wobbling and the Rossington man went after him. A barrage of blows from Hughes detonated on Straffon’s chin but the Mexican fired back, fighting on instinct. His legs were still unsteady at the end of the round but he somehow stayed in the fight.
Hughes couldn’t miss in the sixth, but Straffon hung in there and, by the end of the seventh, it was beginning to look like a procession for Hughes. Straffon gamely pressed forward until the final bell, but in the end the Yorkshireman cruised to victory and capped off an incredible 13 months that begun behind closed doors last August beating Jono Carroll.
Australia’s ‘Blonde Bomber’ Ebanie Bridges continued to rebuild following her defeat to Shannon Courtenay in April with an eight-round points win over Mailys Gangloff. Bridges, who stopped Bec Connelly in three last time out, was made to go the distance this time around, taking it on referee Steve Gray’s card 77-76. However, Gangloff (5-3, 2 KOs) should consider herself unlucky.
The Aussie, who has been working with former WBO cruiserweight champion Enzo Maccarinelli in recent weeks, pressed forward through the contest, but she may not be able to walk through future opponent’s punches like she did Gangloff. She improves to 7-1, 3 KOs and no doubt she will be back on these shores soon.
Hopey Price put in a scintillating performance, as he despatched Zahid Hussain in an all-Leeds affair. Price, now 6-0, 2 KOs, dropped Hussain, who slips to 16-2, 2 KOs, twice in the first and second round before it was waved off with both fighters also suffering cuts.
The 21-year-old prospect claims the IBO’s previously vacant International super-bantamweight belt after this standout win. Price, once a highly touted amateur, is being built as a genuine star to keep an eye on. This win will only add to the argument and his burgeoning reputation.
Fellow Leeds fighter Jack Bateson was handed a wake-up call, as he was dropped during his clash with Nicaraguan Felix Garcia. Bateson was down in the second and Garcia gave him all he could handle before the Leeds man came through to win 58-56 on points. Bateson will need to improve as the quality of his opposition steps up. He’s now 14-0, 3 KOs.
Rounding out the card at Headingley were wins for 154-pounder Brandon Stansfield, 40-36 on points, over MJ Hall, whilst light-heavyweight debutant Mali Wright forced Antony Woolery to retire after the second round.
Photo: Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing.