The 24-year-old, the son of boxing legend Nigel Benn, controlled the welterweight fight – and then called out Josh Kelly for his next bout
Alternating his attacks from head to body, and moving cleverly, his tough rival was unable to match his explosive hand speed and vicious attacks. Benn dominated the early rounds with his speed and tenacity with the German fighter aware he was losing rounds and lifting his game, fighting back in the sixth and seventh rounds.
But Benn held fast, matching his foe with ripping body shots as they stood toe-to-toe. It was relentless action. Benn could feel Formella tiring in the eighth and went for broke, but the German held on gamely. Out came Benn in the ninth, after trainer Tony Sims advised his young fighter that he had his foe close to broken, and weakening.
“You have six minutes to get the stoppage,” said Sims. Benn attacked with maximum aggression transferring his weight from left to right leg, throwing two vicious uppercuts, with referee Steve Gray closely watching the under pressure German.
A huge right hand from Benn rocked his rival’s head back jarringly as the ninth stanza came to a close. There was no letting up in the tenth and final round as Benn looked to close the show, with winging hooks. Though unable to find the finish, Benn was a dominant winner yet was even unhappy with his own showing.
He said: “This geezer is tough, but I wanted to get him out of there. I could have done more, I’ve had harder spars. It’s no mucking about here, I’m serious. I’ve just beaten a guy who went twelve rounds with an elite world champion, and believe me, I have more gears than I showed tonight. I was on top the whole time in there.”
Promoter Eddie Hearn was delighted with the young tyro. “I think Conor was a bit critical, it was a great performance. Early in the fight his bodywork was great, his jab was good. I don’t know how Formella was still standing. It’s time to go into 2021 and step up levels for him, because he has passed the test he had in front of him.”
This was Formella’s second defeat in 24 fights. Benn then added, post-fight: “My stock is going up. I’m interested in one fight – Josh Kelly. I’m interested in one bod – Kelly. Do I look like a scared fighter ?”
Sky Sports, broadcasting the fight night, switched to Australia. It was Benn Sr. “So good son, you are getting better and better. Do your own thing, mate,” responded an emotional Benn Sr from home by video link.
Benn Jr was raw. “I’ve missed five years of my life around my family. It’s about sacrifice. I’ll go over there and see my family. I’ve had a blessed life, a privileged life. But I’m the first into the gym, last out of there. I’m genuinely hungry. No one question my dedication and sacrifice.”
This was a huge learning fight for the son of the British boxing legend, and a genuine sign of the prospect of great nights ahead.
Earlier on the Wembley Arena bill, there were victories for heavyweights Fabio Wardley and Alen Babic. Ipswich fighter Wardley moved to 10-0 in his career with a brutal right hook to the temple of Ghanaian Richard Lartey who collapsed heavily and required oxygen inside the ring from paramedics.
Croatian Babic – who is managed by Dillian Whyte – won his third fight under the Matchroom Boxing banner during lockdown with a third round stoppage of Tom Little. But the night belonged to Benn.