LAWRENCE Bennett has put himself in line for a shot at the British cruiserweight title after split decision victory over Chris Keane.
Swindon’s Southern Area champion came out on top in a war of attrition that saw neither men really willing to engage over the 10-rounds of this eliminator contest at the Oasis Leisure Centre on Saturday night.
The 31-year-old Bad Boy was jumping for joy as the judges scorecards were read out with Jeff Hinds and Howard Foster scoring the bout 99-92 and 98-94 in Bennett’s favour, while Mike Alexander felt Keane edged it 96-95.
The win for the Swindon southpaw has opened up the door for a possible Jamaican showdown after Derby’s Ovill McKenzie knocked out Jon-Lewis Dickinson to add the British title to his Commonwealth crown.
But on the evidence of Saturday, Bennett is going to need a big improvement if he to claim those belts.
Having found success with the single jab to claim the Southern Area title in March, he relied on that tactic again.
Keane came into the contest with one thing on his mind, ending the fight with a booming over the top right hand.
But in trying to land it, Bennett was cute enough to stay out of range and the West Midlander hurt his bicep that required icing between the rounds.
Referee Terry O’Connor had to bring the boxers together in the first and ninth rounds to remind them that they were supposed to fight, but when this contest is long forgotten, the records will show a victory for Bennett.
“It feels brilliant,” said a jubilant Bennett. “I have gone and beaten the Midlands champion, I’m the Southern Area champion and I beat a guy who stopped (former British champion) Shane McPhilbin.
“I keep telling you guys I don’t know how good I am, I just taking it step by step - I’m winging it.
“I’m not supposed to beat those guys, he was an ex-ABA champion, he has got pedigree, I had two amateur fights and I beat him.”
Bennett admits that the contest wasn’t a fight to be remembered, but said that there had been disagreements in the dressing room before the contest with the gloves.
However, the Swindonian kept his focus and got the job done to continue an incredible 2014 which has seen him bounce back from defeat to Courtney Richards to secure the Southern Area title and by the end the year he could find himself facing McKenzie for the British and Commonwealth crowns.
“It wasn’t the greatest of fights, but most people are still fighting journeymen in their seventh fight,” Bennett said.
“I’m Southern Area champion I’ve just beat the Midlands champion and I’m fighting for a British title next.
“I want it, Ovill has knocked out Jon-Lewis Dickinson, I thought Jon-Lewis Dickinson would be a tougher fight.
“But Ovill is going to be another tough one, he is a puncher, I don’t mind punchers I can take a shot, they have to catch me first, I’ve got fast feet.”