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Has Conor Been Had It Easy So Far? The Stats Breakdown

by Steve Fearon

Having noticed a number of comments on social media recently, questioning the quality of Conor Benn’s opponents in his first 7 fights, got me to thinking; how do Conor Benn’s first 7 fights compare to his father, the Eubanks’ and the leading fighters in Conor’s weight class?

Well, we can see what the records tell us and make a slightly more informed judgement call.

For comparison and fairness, I have looked up the first 7 fights for Conor, Nigel Benn, Chris Eubank, Chris Eubank Jr, Kell Brook, Floyd Mayweather JR and Manny Pacquiao to see where they align and differ.

[Mickey Helliet read Steve's piece in the office before it went out and said immediately, "Mickey Duff used to say 'Twenty to learn, twenty to earn', which is true, you don't want to find out a guy can fight in his debut!": Ed]

  

We have a nice mixture of debut dates, some in the 80’s, 90’s, 00’s and 10’s, all successful, all with substantial careers, so let's have a look at the first 7 fights for them.

First up we have the average win % for their first 7 opponents:

 What does this information tell us?

Well it tells us that Conor Benn has fought opponents with an average win % just below the average for our sample of fighters.

It tells us that Kell Brook faced a much lower win % in his early fights, and he has done ok, right?

It is also higher than Chris Eubank Sr’s first 7, so I think from this angle, we have to say, it doesn’t look too bad?

But what about the experience of these opposition, are they seasoned pros, or prospects with a win % of 100% but a record of 1-0-0? Experience is a key factor when looked at together with win percentage.

The above graph shows a massive outlier in Kell Brook, who fought several fighters early on who carried hundreds of losses, which distorts this figure for him.

But wait, who is that at the other end of the graph?

Interestingly, Conor Benn has faced the least experienced fighters after 7 fights, with a total of only 38 fights between them, averaging just over 5 fights each.

Now that doesn’t necessarily mean easier fights, as there is a much bigger risk in new fighters as a prospect’s opposition, as there are a lot more unknowns than the Peter Buckleys of this world who Brook learned from.

However, it does suggest that perhaps Conor Benn has been matched slightly lazily, given similar level young fighters as opposed to well matched professional opponents.

Because of the huge records of some Brook’s early opponents, we are in danger of having our averages thrown, So let's just see how many of the 7 early opposition for each had a winning record…

Again, Conor is towards the bottom, sharing a single winning record opponent with Eubank Sr at the same stage of his career, and one more than Kell Brook, who was very carefully matched right up until a recent years.

What does this tell us? It tells us that, on the face of it, Conor Benn has had a fairly easy start, only facing one opponent with more wins than not, but also that the majority of our sample had fought 2 or less winning opponents in their first 7 fights, so he is in decent company. This is to be expected of a fighter with a big name who will have signed on for a decent fee to a big promotional company.

For one last experiment, if we averaged the first 7 opponents for each member of our sample, and used this average to create a hypothetical fighter that represented their first 7 opponents, how would they look?

Once again Conor Benn appears towards the bottom of the sample, but pretty darn close to the average for the 7 fighters I selected.

 Conclusions

All these graphs and averages tell us something, but what is it?

Potentially nothing actually. Kell Brook had one of the most slowly built records I have seen, but it got him to be a World Champion, so is that really a bad thing?

Conor Benn has not faced many experienced fighters yet, which can leave him at a disadvantage, as the wily pros that do the circuits, losing several times a month, do actually have skills that can be very useful to a fighter, and I would certainly hope that Conor gets a few more experienced opponents sooner rather than later, to ensure he doesn’t end up with an unbalanced education.

What we can surmise is that actually Conor Benn’s start is seemingly fairly typical of where it should be, so perhaps people should be a little kinder before they begin criticising a fighter’s record after 7 fights.

Steve is on Twitter: @ScreamingStatic

Posted: 5th Jul 2017

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