Conor Benn says he would rather lose than see Chris van Heerden hurt

Conor Benn says he would rather lose against Chris van Heerden at the weekend than see the South African seriously injured.

Benn puts his 20-0 record on the line against the experienced welterweight in Manchester on Saturday on a card that will also see Campbell Hatton fight again.

Benn, 25, is the overwhelming favourite to beat his 34-year-old opponent, who has two defeats in his 31 fights (28-2-1).

The son of former great Nigel Benn still has to deal with 'hype job' comments due to his name. But his last victory was a career-best performance against a former world champion opponent.

Chris Algieri was brushed aside in December with a left jab and an overhand right leaving the 38-year-old crumpled on the canvas.

The win has moved Benn, who has developed a spiteful jab, a step closer to a world title fight as he sits in the top 10 rankings with the WBA, WBO and IBF.

The Greenwich fighter though believes he is in the top five and will be looking for a world title shot if he comes through against Van Heerden.

"When I say I'm top five, I'm top five for a reason," Benn said after destroying Algieri last year.

But Benn has made it clear that there is more to life than boxing and does not want to win at all costs.

Nigel Benn 'still dealing' with McClellan fight

In an extensive interview with Boxing Scene, a passionate Benn said: "If someone told me that Van Heerden was going to come out 10, 20, 30 percent injured or be in a coma, I'd rather lose the fight.

"Because how do you deal with it? And I'd probably end up retiring after the fight anyway. I'm not in this game to inflict serious damage on somebody.

"It's all well and good knocking someone out and that's fine, you get knocked out, you get back up, you're sweet. But when it's life, career-ending… It's not what the sport of boxing is about. It's a gentleman's sport."

Of course Benn has second-hand experience of seeing his father seriously injure an opponent in 1995 - a memory that lives on with Benn Snr.

"Obviously I see my dad still dealing with it now," said Benn.

"Do you know what I mean? He's genuinely still dealing with it now. If there's anything you can make him cry about when he's doing Q and As or after-dinner speaking, it's often about McClellan.

"He'll always cry about it. I feel as you get older you realise that's another human being, that's someone's life, irrelevant of how it was at the time. So you always pray both parties come out uninjured."

'Your health comes first'

McClellan, a former middleweight champion, suffered life-changing injuries in the 10th-round knockout defeat.

He returned to America blind and crippled from the damage he sustained, while Benn still suffers mentally with the damage he inflicted on his opponent that fateful evening.

It's a risk that Benn, who stresses the importance of dropping down weights safely, refuses to take.

"If there was a risk of me coming out, touch wood, damaged if there's any chance of me coming out 10 per cent damaged or losing a fight, I'd lose a fight every day of the week - I'd lose a fight twice on Sunday," he added.

"Your health comes first. At the end of the day, I'd rather see my kids grow up. I want to be able to see my grandson or granddaughter... I want to be able to live life with my family. There's more to life than just boxing. There really is."

Read more: Everything you need to know ahead of Conor Benn vs Chris van Heerden

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