Lewis Benson says it’s his time to break into British boxing’s elite bracket.
The Edinburgh welterweight returns to the ring at Glasgow’s Emirates Arena on Friday night to fight Northern Irishman Tyrone McKenna. It follows the first defeat of his professional career to Johnny Coyle in June.
That defeat still doesn’t rest well with the 26-year-old, or his team. Benson lost by a single point in Belfast which made the decision all the more harder to stomach. That said, the 2014 Commonwealth Games representative was more than content with his ten rounds, so much that he labelled it the best bout of his career.
Benson had powered his way to ten consecutive victories prior to that loss to Coyle five months ago, and was on the cusp of challenging for his first title. Despite the setback, the MTK Global boxer insists he is ready to go to war again.
“I took so much from my last fight despite the result,” Benson told the Evening News. “I know it was my first defeat but we all know what happened. When you’re in their backyard and it comes down to just a single point, we all know the home fighter will get the nod.
“His (Coyle’s) corner were saying to him before the final round that he was going to have to knock me out to win.
“I was shocked and disappointed with the outcome but I know how well I fought that night. I think I made a lot of people stand up and take notice with my performance. It was also great to get ten rounds in for the very first time. I know I struggled a wee bit after seven and eight but I came back strong in the final two rounds.
“I cannot afford to take another loss, not at this stage of my career. Tyrone is well ranked so this will be a big win for me. Defeat would set me back another couple of years of where I want to be so it’s not even worth contemplating. I know a win here will see me fight for a title next, perhaps against the likes of Ohara Davies. I suffered my first loss this year but I have big plans for 2019.”
Benson has been sparring WBSS (World Boxing Super Series) semi-finalist and former Scotland team-mate Josh Taylor ahead of tomorrow night’s duel. And the former Scottish and British 64kg champion believes he will prove he is the better fighter after some heated exchanges with his opponent over Twitter.
“I don’t have any grievances with Tyrone,” Benson explained. “We sparred together before my last fight against Coyle and I found it very comfortable. It was fairly easy if the truth be told. But he’s started coming out saying he didn’t get out of second gear during the sparring sessions and that I’ll see a completely different person.
“I’ve had all the guys in his gym start on me too but I don’t know if that is just a ploy to wind me up or unnerve me. It’s not working whatever they’re trying to do as I feel super confident ahead of tomorrow.
“Tyrone’s a good boxer but I think even he knows I have the beating of him.
“I know I am a better fighter than him. Everything has gone according to plan so there can be no excuses.
“I’m looking for another solid display before I can have a break, recharge and then get ready for a huge year ahead. It’s my time to shine now and start winning some big fights.”