LAWRENCE Bennett is determined to keep moving forward as he prepares to defend his Southern Area cruiserweight title for the first time this summer.

Having won the strap at the end of March following a 98-94 points victory over Margate’s Jack Morris, Bad Boy Bennett is set to return to action on June 7 at the Oasis Leisure and will put his crown on the line.

And while an opponent for the bout has yet to be named, the Swindon cruiserweight says that he does not want to take any backward steps.

“I want to fight someone who is ranked higher than me,” the 31-year-old. “I want to work my way to a shot at the English title.

“But it is important not to take a too big a step because this is just the start for me, I don’t want to be going backwards.”

With Bennett wanting to face someone higher up the pecking order, the options for the Jamaican-born fighter, who is ranked 20th on the unofficial British list, appear to limited.

Former Southern Area title holder Menay Edwards is recovering from a bleed on the brain following his last fight against English title holder Matty Askin, while Romford’s Tony Conquest, who is ranked sixth, is unlikely to step down to an area level fight having fought for the Commonwealth crown last month.

For Bennett to move forward as he wishes, he would have to look at either Mark Prince, ranked 18th, or JJ Ojuederie, 19th, with the other higher ranked opponents not coming under Southern Area jurisdiction.

But 45-year-old Prince would be a dangerous option for Bad Boy having boxed for the WBO light-heavyweight crown in 1998 and since his return to the sport last year, in the 200lb division, he has claimed two devastating stoppage victories.

Walthamstow’s Ojuederie could be the more likely option for Bennett having unsuccessfully tried to win the strap in his last two outings, both against Edwards, and he also failed in his attempt to claim the belt in 2010 when he went the distance with Leon Senior, however, he has not fought since last September.

Yet despite the apparent lack of higher ranked opponents for Bennett, he is confident that he will be able to show how much he has improved when he returns to action in Swindon.

“I didn’t do too well in my last fight (a points defeat to Courtney Richards) here,” he said. “There will be pressure for me to perform.

“I need to show everyone in Swindon how much I have improved. I have been working hard in the gym – working on my all-round game.

“I’ve only had six professional fights and being the Southern Area champ is a testament to my hard work – but I need to continue doing that.”

Bennett is also on the look out for new sponsors, anyone interest should contact him on 07539 003311.