Boxing: Easton and Benson friends until the fight

Capital duo are best pals, but tonight it's about winning title. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

Capital duo are best pals, but tonight it's about winning title. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

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SELF-confidence is a trait all boxers have in abundance, an aspect of the sport that invokes so much uncertainty before a single punch has even been thrown.

However, tonight’s amateur boxing Scottish Championships finals have the assurance that at least one newly crowned champion will hail from the Capital.

At 64kg discipline, Craigmillar’s Jason Easton will go head-to-head with the reigning current Scottish and British champion, Lochend’s Lewis Benson.

The pair, who share a close friendship outwith the ring, will put their companionship to one side as they both bid to win the prestigious title for a second time, Easton delivering the gold in 2010 while Benson followed the same trend just 12 months ago.

Speaking as the duo hooked up to promote tonight’s showpiece event at Meadowbank, Easton said: “We have both been winding each other up and telling one another what we are going to do in the ring.

“We were trying to be 
serious with the photo, but it was a laugh as well because we’re really good mates at the same time.

“We’ve been on trips abroad with Scotland and I went to Lewis’s 21st, but when it comes to boxing, sometimes you just have to fight your mates and all of that will be forgotten when I step inside the ring.”

With the score evenly poised at 2-2, the fifth bout between the 21-year-olds has all the makings of a real crowd-pleaser, with each having put heart and soul into demanding training regimes with their 
respective coaches. Easton, however, believes he has the edge over his opponent both physically and mentally.

“I feel brilliant and probably the fittest I have ever felt. I train harder than Lewis and want it more than he does.

“I know him inside out as he does with me, but this time I’ll be stepping it up. The last time I fought him I stood in the centre of the ring, planted my feet 
and let him hit me, but it won’t happen this time.

“This title would mean more to me because it’s Lewis I’m fighting and it’s currently 
all-square in victories. There are a lot of people coming along to support me, so I don’t want to disappoint them.”

Benson, on the other hand, sacrificed full-time employment at the turn of the year to maximise his potential in the ring, a decision he has no regrets over. Since his semi-final victory almost four weeks ago, the adrenalin-fuelled occasion that tonight’s final brings is a moment Benson can’t wait for.

“It has been four weeks of intense training and I am ready to take the gold medal,” Benson said. “Friends or no friends, I don’t like getting beat off of anyone. If I get beat then I can’t say anything other than I got beat off the better man because everything has been perfect in the run-up to the fight.

“I’ve given myself the best opportunity by quitting my job a few months ago, so I am more than ready. I haven’t lost a round at this year’s Scottish Championships, so I’m hoping to keep that going and win my next three and be Scottish champion again.”

Benson is just one of three who will be representing Lochend with both Kevin Skey and Aston Brown looking to make it a hat-trick of victories in the men’s seniors finals – an outcome Benson is confident he and his team-mates will deliver.

He said: “Both Kevin and Aston are up against good opponents as they are fighting the Scottish champions from last year, but I’ve seen both of them in the gym and they’ve been training really hard so all three of us are very confident.

“Hopefully we can improve on last year’s record of having two Scottish champions, so this time we are going for the three.”