Boxing: Lochend fighter wins thrilling bout

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Lochend’s Lewis Benson retained his 64kg Scottish amateur boxing title after a titanic 16-14 victory over Craigmillar’s Jason Easton in the Scottish Championships finals at Meadowbank.

The fourth bout of the evening between the two Edinburgh 
pugilists didn’t disappoint with both 21-year-olds, inspired by a strong vocal support, delivering some well-placed shots and moving around the canvas at phenomenal pace.

Benson always appeared to have the upper hand, Easton producing his best boxing in round two to close the gap to two points heading into the 
final three minutes, but it was the Lochend star who regained his composure to edge out his opponent and preserve his Scottish champion accolade.

“It’s the best feeling ever and is what I have worked for,” Benson said with a huge sigh of relief after Friday night’s win. “I gave up my job for this and it has paid off so I am ecstatic about it. I’ve never had a fight like that in my life.

“Jason caught me with a few shots in round two and I started panicking a little. I was still two points up but I needed to clear my head for round three and I found my momentum again. Jason shocked me how good he was and he went out there and gave it his all. I know he said he was the fitter and wanted it more prior to the fight but I think it proved in the end that I was the fitter one and wanted it more.

“The place was going mental and I’ve never fought in an atmosphere like that, it was unbelievable. There had been a lot of talk before the fight but I told him afterwards he is a fantastic fighter. He was a bit upset but he took it like a champ and he shouldn’t be too disheartened by it.”

Benson now has less than three weeks to prepare, along with the eight other national champions, for the Belgrade Winners Tournament in the Serbian capital before the Lochend fighter will hope to retain his British title in London in May. He added: “Next month I’m going to Belgrade and fighting for Scotland before I will be defending my British title, so it’s an unbelievable feeling and I have a lot to look forward to. I was meant to be going back to work next week so I’m going to have to contact them to say I can’t come back just now.

“I still want to be a full-time boxer as I have come on leaps and bounds and I don’t think I would have won the fight against Jason unless I had made that decision to quit my job a few months ago.”

Clovenstone’s Ryan McCutcheon excelled in the first fight of the night with a 13-8 triumph over Glasgow Phoenix’s Liban Elmi, but the 18-year-old, in his first year of senior boxing, admits he had to overcome his battle with nerves first before plotting his way to victory.

McCutcheon said: “I was shaking a lot before the fight but as soon as the bell went, I was focussed on the job in hand and the atmosphere was simply amazing.

“It’s still not sunk in yet but it’s just a dream come true to come into my first ever senior championships and win it. I can’t wait to go over to Belgrade and share the ring with some of the best boxers in the world and hopefully bring something home for my country.”

World Series Boxing star Aston Brown also prevailed in his 75kg clash with a narrow 12-11 success over Springhill’s Kieran Smith, a title which will provide some comfort for the Lochend fighter upon learning his British Lionhearts team-mates were thrashed 5-0 by Mexico Guerreros in Mexico City to crash out at the quarter-finals stage of this year’s competition.

There was disappointment, however, for Lochend’s Kevin Skey who lost his 56kg bout 18-11 to Hayfield’s Joe Ham, who continues to underline his superiority at this level with his fourth consecutive Scottish title, and Heriot-Watt’s Daniel Gollan put up a powerful showing against Springhill’s Ross Henderson in the final clash of the evening at 91+kg, but lost out to a more clinical opponent 17-11.