CONOR Benn aims to move another step closer to fighting for a world title in the welterweight division when he takes on Chris Van Heerden on April 16 at the AO Arena in Manchester.

Benn, 25, extended his professional record to 20-0 with a fourth-round knockout of former world super-lightweight champion Chris Algieri last December and now faces a South African who has been stopped just once in 32 fights.

That came in September 2015 against current WBC and IBF welterweight titlist Errol Spence, regarded as one of the finest pound-for-pound boxers currently, while Van Heerden held the lightly regarded IBO crown from 2011 to 2013.

“Van Heerden is a tough operator and a southpaw who will be in there giving it his all in every round,” said Benn, the son of former two-weight world champion Nigel.

“For me and my team it’s now about fighting every style that we can face as we continue to head towards world championship status and Van Heerden brings something different to the table that I’ve not faced before.

“With that being said this is another stepping stone for me on my journey to the top, I haven’t seen anything in Van Heerden’s previous fights that I can’t deal with, and I expect another explosive victory.”

Benn, who is based in Stock and regularly trains in Southend, had been linked with a bout against Kell Brook following his fellow Briton’s win over Amir Khan last month but now must focus on Van Heerden (28-2-1, 12KOs), who started his career in the paid ranks in 2006.

Van Heerden, 34, said: “Sometimes it takes 10 years for that one year to come around that completely changes your life. This is my year.”