STEVE Bendall is determined to silence the sceptics by completing a fairytale comeback but he admits: “Talk is cheap and I have to prove myself in the ring.”
The veteran will end his two-year boxing absence when he tonight launches an ambitious world middleweight title bid in Germany – at the age of 40.
Westbourne-based Bendall, who has won 29 of his 36 professional contests, is a former English champion who has also fought for the British, European and Commonwealth crowns.
Bendall has lost his past three bouts and he will be up against Ghana’s John Akulugu, who has nine wins out of 12, in their World Boxing Union bout in Neuwied, near Cologne this evening.
But despite his recent record and advancing years, Bendall is aiming to propel himself back into the limelight when he straps on the gloves.
Speaking exclusively to the Daily Echo at his Wallisdown gym prior to jetting out for the pre-fight weigh-in, Bendall said: “I am not stupid. I know exactly what people are thinking. I have great belief in myself but talk is cheap and I have to prove that in the ring.
“It is great looking good in the gym but I have to transfer what I am doing now into the ring. I am a realist. I am not going to stand here and tell you I am the next best thing. I have to get in there and prove I still have something left.
“I’d like to think my experience can help me. This is my last throw of the dice and I am putting everything into it. I feel good. If I am still winning after five fights, I will fight again. But one more defeat and I will retire.”
Like many other boxers, Bendall admitted he had wanted to retire by the age of 32 but various problems prevented his career from taking the direction he had hoped. That led to Bendall deciding to end his ring exile and he is convinced he can defy the doubters.
He added: “I turned 40 on December 1. I always said I would be out of the game by the time I was 32. Unfortunately for me, things like contract problems, other wrangles you wouldn’t believe and, towards the end of my career, my medical wrangle, have all meant I am now 40 years of age.
“But I have been away over the past few months and I went to Denmark and sparred with a great, up-and-coming fighter who is 23 fights unbeaten.
“He is trained by an American who worked with the great Emanuel Steward and he said to me that I had a hell of a lot to offer and that I shouldn’t retire yet.
“That is why I decided to carry on but I just have to prove it now.”
- Boxing hopefuls Lee Cutler and George Harvey will be fighting for national glory at today’s ABAE Senior Novice Championships.
The Poole ABC duo will be bidding to take centre stage in Nottingham after progressing to the finals of the prestigious competition.
In the class b 71kg category, Cutler will lock horns with rival Ben Burnham of Birkenhead Venture. Club-mate Harvey will face Alex Dickinson (Kirkby) in the b class 91kg+ division.
Harvey reached the final when his last-four opponent pulled out, while Cutler progressed after securing a convincing victory over Chalvedon ABC’s Mitchell Frearson in Birmingham.
Cutler started well in the first round and went on to dominate the second and third rounds with a fine display of footwork and punch selection. Frearson was given a standing eight count in the fourth with Cutler eventually awarded victory with a unanimous decision.