Boxing: Lewis Benson buoyed by ‘12th man’

Lewis Benson takes on Kristian Laight in his first pro fight at Murrayfield next week. Pic: Lisa Ferguson
Lewis Benson takes on Kristian Laight in his first pro fight at Murrayfield next week. Pic: Lisa Ferguson
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Boxer Lewis Benson says he has been overwhelmed by the support he has received ahead of his professional debut at Meadowbank next weekend.

The reigning Scottish amateur light welterweight champion switched to the paid ranks in June after signing a three-year deal with Marbella-based promoter MGM and will make his debut against Englishman Kristian Laight in seven days time.

MGM’s inaugural show in the Capital, New Era, will see former WBC International Silver cruiserweight champion Stephen Simmons top the bill with Lochend pros Stephen Tiffney, Tommy Philbin, John Thain and Brian Forsyth 
making up the undercard.

With a 1200 capacity crowd expected at Meadowbank next Saturday, the Edinburgh-based fighters are sure to be roared on by a vocal home support.

Benson, 23, revealed he has sold over 200 tickets for his bout and can’t thank his fans enough for coming out to back him.

“I’ve got my friends, family, my mum’s friends, my dad’s friends, everyone has gotten on board so I think that’s going to make it a night to remember for everybody,” Benson said. “I’ve put the work in the gym and have shown people what I do on my Twitter and Facebook to prepare and everybody is coming out to support me in good numbers. I think there will be over 200 there supporting me so I can’t wait.

“I don’t think I’ll be far off the top salesman on the night and that’s even with guys like Stephen Simmons on the bill who are top fighters and have been around a while. I’m giving everyone that’s coming along to support me a free T-shirt as well so you’ll know my people when you see them!”

Benson was also quick to underline the importance of having so many familiar faces around you when competing in the ring.

“It’s similar to a football pitch with the fans being the 12th man,” he said. “When the going gets tough and you have to grit your teeth, the crowd just give you that wee extra something when you hear them screaming and shouting your name. They’re doing everything they can for you so you’ve got to give it back to them. To be honest, I thrive on things like that. I’ve found it has really helped me in previous Scottish finals and has made me rise to the occasion.”

Benson feels he has adapted well with the transition from amateur to pro and believes he has left no stone unturned ahead of his duel with Laight. However, he did acknowledge there has been a real disparity from his days training as an amateur.

“I always used to say in the amateurs that it’s been the best camp ever and that’s what I thought,” he explained. “But since I’ve turned professional, I’ve really noticed the difference in the all the prep that goes into the fight. But I feel so good ahead of this one and I think I’ve made the step up really well, but I’m still learning and all I want to do is get my first win out of the way. Laight is a journeyman to an extent, but he comes to win and has boxed some of the best in Britain so I know I’m in for a tough four rounds. But I’ve trained hard for it.

“I’m going out to Marbella just after the fight for ten days so that’s what I need to keep improving. I can’t thank my sponsors enough either for all their support as well, Watermans Accident Claims and Care, Specialized Signs and Body Core Training have all been so good to me and that’s what you need as an elite athlete, a good team around you.”