'It’s going to be a hard three fights': Mark Bennett interview
Unbeaten heavyweight Mark Bennett enters Ultimate Boxxer 6 on Friday night with the confidence of knowing he has already beaten two of his fellow competitors. Oliver McManus spoke to the Yorkshire-based pugilist...
Father-of-four Mark Bennett competes in Ultimate Boxxer 6 on Friday night with the aim of upsetting the odds.
Several of the eight heavyweight competitors involved have crossed pathsprior to their upcoming encounters, with Bennett holding wins over both Chris Healey and Kamil Sokolowski.
The 32-year-old spoke to Boxing Monthly ahead of the tournament and began by reflecting on a camp spliced by the birth of his son.
“It’s been a hard camp - seven weeks ago my son was born and he was in hospital for two weeks after. He’s alright now, can’t stop eating, but obviously that’s where my mind was at. Some of the lads in this tournament are full-time athletes and I’ve got a wife, four kids and two businesses so yeah, it has been tough.
"I’m out from seven in the morning to nine at night trying to squeeze everything in. I’ve had really good sparring though with Nathan Gorman and a few of the local fighters so I feel prepared and I’m ready to take the opportunity.”
Competing in the tournament is something Bennett has had his eye on for a while. 'Bad News' turned professional in November 2017 and has been keen to test himself ever since. Fights against Dorian Darch, Sokolowski and Healey were early indicators of his ambition. A first six-rounder came in June and his focus since then has been channelled towards this moment.
“I had my six rounder against Miles Willington and straight after that I wanted to get involved with this format. It’s boxing but it’s not - it’s just having a fight, isn’t it? And I like having a fight: getting in there and having a battle for three, three-minute rounds.
"It’s my sort of style - you’re in there, quick off the mark and you’ve got to stay busy. I’m an athletic fighter and that’s one of my strengths. I have gone out guns blazing in all fights so far and I know I can do the three rounds at a very, very fast pace. It’ll take a good man to keep up with me.”
His five professional contests thus far have totalled 20 rounds - with Dorian Darch being the only fighter not to see the final bell. Consistent throughout those bouts has been a high workrate coupled with evident learning. Each performance has been slightly better, slightly different to the last with Bennett eager to try new things out. He is, after all, a late bloomer in the sport having started just five years ago:
“I didn’t start boxing until I was 27. There was a white-collar bout for charity so I thought ‘I’ll give it a crack’. I had a go and I ended up stopping the kid inside a minute of the first round and that was with 16oz gloves and head guards!
“I carried on from there on the unlicensed scene and didn’t lose there. I’ve not looked back, to be fair, it’s been good fun. I’m 5-0 now and I’ve already beaten two of the guys in this contest. I’ve not dodged anyone, either, I had Dorian Darch in my second fight, then Sokolowski and Chris Healey afterwards.”
Speaking to the Yorkshire fighter it was clear that he is a reflective, honest character. He was forthcoming when explaining what works in his favour - a high paced contest - and equally willing to discuss what he felt were his weaknesses.
More than anything he stood out as a fighter who is willing to learn and happy to take each fight as a new experience. Oddly enough his favourite fight wasn’t one that went swimmingly nor even his sole stoppage but his hardest bout to date: against Sokolowski. The Pole is a potential semi-final opponent and Bennett takes confidence from their previous fight.
“I think I might have a slight [mental] edge because I’ve beaten Kamil and I’ve beaten Chris [Healey]. From Nick Webb’s perspective he’s been hurt by Kamil. Once you’ve been hurt by someone that’ll never leave your head, there’s always a bit of fear.
"On the flip side he now knows what he’s got to look out for and he’ll have more determination. A lot of us in the tournament have come across each other before and that’s been done on purpose - there’s stories to be told and it adds an extra angle.”
Jay McFarlane awaits in the first round with the Scotsman equally keen to bounce into title contention. Winning Ultimate Boxxer isn't just about the prize money, all the fighters say, but the opportunities thereafter. Bennett has his eyes on the English title in 2020 but he remains fully focused on Friday night first.
“I believe McFarlane is one of the best draws I could have got, personally. I’d have been happy with anyone but I’ll need to do a bit of research into their styles. I know what I bring to the table, I know my strengths, and I don’t think they’ll like it.
"I’m under no illusions about the tournament: I know it’s going to be a hard three fights and they’re only going to get harder. I don’t mind who beats who as long as they punch the fuck out of each other!"
Mark Bennett would like to thank his sponsors Joe Daniels (Nouveau Financial), Joe Booth (Joe Booths Transport), Dave Colding (DWS), Nick Adams (NJA Building Services LTD) and Edlington Grill for helping him prepare for this tournament.