AMATEUR boxer Lewis Benson will not allow the disappointment of missing out on next month’s European Championships to affect his performances in the ring as he bids for gold in Bosnia.
The 64kg Scottish champion fights for his country in the Hakija Tournament this weekend, a warm-up event for the European finals that begin in two-weeks in the Belarusian capital of Minsk.
However, the Lochend star will not be undertaking the journey east as he has been overlooked in favour of team-mate Josh Taylor, who will instead represent Great Britain in the 64kg weight category.
Speaking ahead of his bouts this weekend, Benson said: “I’m obviously devastated because I have been doing everything that has been asked of me. A major tournament then comes up and they take Josh instead – it’s not right, but I think it’s because he’s with GB. I really wanted to go to the Europeans as I’ve never been before and I’m the current British champion. I am on standby as the reserve, but Josh has never even beaten me.
“I have accumulated all these points and then get dropped like that. I know the Scotland squad are over the moon with me just now. I’ve been at their training camps every weekend and I am one of the fittest.”
This latest setback has left the 21-year-old wary of his prospects of qualifying for next year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow – an opportunity he is determined not to let pass by without a fight. At the end of last year he quit full-time employment as an electrician to refocus all his energy into ensuring his spot on the national team. He is, however, adamant that he will make it virtually impossible for the selection committee to look elsewhere.
“I am going to leave them with no choice,” he said. “I’m going to medal at all these tournaments between now and then and make them take notice. I’m ready for the international stage and now it’s my turn. I am going for a gold medal at this tournament (Hakija), it’s as simple as that. I am flying just now and I am the best boxer at 64kg in Scotland and I really don’t care if he (Taylor) is an Olympian at 60kg. I am the 64kg champion. I am gutted about it all, but I just need to keep delivering.”