Boxing: Benson keen to focus on his craft

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BOXER Lewis Benson is looking to put a difficult week behind him when he returns to the ring in Moscow this weekend.

The 22-year-old Lochend star flew out to the Russian capital yesterday with his Scottish team-mates to compete in the Valeri Popenchenko Memorial tournament, a knock-out event which will see some of the best amateur boxers in Europe go head to head.

Benson’s preparations were hindered this week when he appeared in court to plead guilty to an assault charge after reacting to racist taunts in Princes Street in December last year. After being let off with a warning, Benson is determined to put all his focus on boxing.

“That’s in the past now and I am just going to focus on my boxing.” Benson said. “I’ve never been in trouble before so I’m happy it’s over. It was a mistake and now I’m just looking forward to fighting for my country.

“I’ve got a long road ahead of me in the next six months or so because I will be going on loads of trips away to fight.”

The 64kg Scottish champion has moved up a weight division to offer himself a better chance of qualifying for the Commonwealth Games next year. However, he is a relative novice at the weight having fought just once, a victory in his own club’s show, almost two months ago.

Benson added: “It’s a massive test for me at 69kg. This is my chance, though, to prove that I’m up there with the very best in this division. There’s boxing in Scotland and there’s boxing abroad and these guys are up there at the top. I am certainly looking to medal.”

Craigmillar’s Jason Easton (64kg) is also aiming to show his worth on the continent and return home clutching the top award. He said: “It’s going to be hard, but I want to get the gold. I don’t want to be second best. I love going away with Scotland and is always a great experience.”

Benson’s Lochend clubmates Stephen Tiffney (56kg) and Tommy Philbin (81kg) have also travelled with the team to make up a strong contingent representing the Capital.