News May 2019

Back from the brink: Steve Bendall back with a vengeance at 40

07.01.14

By Michael J Jones

Tough warrior Bendall


Almost exactly ten years ago, middleweight Steve Bendall was undefeated in 22 contests and sitting pretty near the top of the UK 160lb rankings. Instead of gaining the expected success though, the rangy southpaw endured some shocking misfortune over the ensuing years.

Frozen out of a British title chance against long-time champion Howard Eastman, Bendall was forced to wait over a year for his chance at the domestic belt only to be stopped by Plymouth puncher Scott Dann.

Although the 6ft contender would claim the English title and end the unbeaten record of Liverpoolís Paul Smith in the following years, Steve has also had to endure several further misfortunes in the years since before having his boxing licence taken away by the British boxing board of Control in 2009.

Steve, who represented England on some 20 occasions as a star amateur, eventually resurfaced overseas in 2011 for successive losses to Dominik Britsch and Rudy Markussen. It was somewhat of a surprise that the former English champion would then return late last year to face dangerous Ghanaian John Akulugu in Germany.

However, the gritty Bendall would use his superior skill and experience to shake off the ring rust and dissect his opponent in six rounds with quality body-shots. With the victory Steve, now 40, won the WBU middleweight title and raised his record to 30-7 (16).

Hereís what the new champion had to tell Livefight earlier this weekÖ

LF) Congratulations on your win last month, did the fight go to plan for you?

SB) Thanks. He was an unknown quantity and turned out to be awkward but I weighed him up in the first before dropping him in the second with a body-shot. I could tell he didnít like those so I kept targeting down-stairs. He could whack a bit and had a chopping right-hand so I had to be patient but I got him out in the sixth with a right hook to the ribs.

LF) I believe you have another fight lined up already?

SB) Yes Iíll be facing another Ghanaian in Daniel Adjei Sowah on February 1st in Berlin. After all thatís happened in the last four years, well really ten years, I want to stay busy and keep winning.

LF) You turned pro in 1997 and probably your first stand-out win was over another southpaw puncher in Lee Blundell. Heíd just knocked out Ryan Rhodes yet you stopped him in just two rounds?

SB) At the time I think I was ranked number four (in the UK) and him number three. I got offered the fight and although I knew it would be tough I said ďthatís what I wantĒ.

The winner was to be made the mandatory for Howard Eastmanís British title but (Eastman) messed me around for about a year. Then my promoters ĎLion Promotionsí lost their TV contract so I ended up fighting Scott Dann for the vacant title after a year out of the ring.

Steve blasts out Blundell


I went on to lose to Sebastian Sylvester (for the European title) and then Wayne Elcock. I just didnít turn up against Elcock; even he said that to me afterwards (Bendall was stopped in eight with the English belt on the line).

LF) Just over a year after that you suffered a fourth career loss to future world champion Darren Barker (on cuts). Just three months after that though you upset Paul Smith to lift the English title. Some saw that win as controversial?

SB) I know I beat Paul Smith. I thought I won it at the time but I got a good friend of mine to get me a copy of the fight. After watching it back I was more certain than ever Iíd won it by probably seven rounds to three.

My intention in that fight was to box him but in the first I stood my ground and I could tell he didnít like it. I changed my tactics and tried forcing him back and unloading and had success. I also dropped him on two occasions but it wasnít counted.

LF) Since that win youíve only fought four times in nearly six years. Can you talk a little about that period?

SB) My last fight in Britain was a loss to Darren McDermott in 2009 though I thought Iíd won. I got told my brain scan had changed and that my licence was going to be taken away.*

I thought Iíd have to retire but luckily I got the chance to fight abroad. In 2011 I fought Dominik Britsch and lost but beat him if you know what I mean. Then I fought Rudy Markussen in Denmark in another risky fight and he was just too big to be honest (Steve was halted in the fourth).

Iíve been building up my business (Steve has his own boxing and fitness gym in Bournemouth) for a few years now, it was tough at first when I first started out but itís doing ok now. Anyway because Iíve got the gym Iím always in good shape so when it came about in October about the title opportunity I took it.

*Steve talked more about the situation regarding his licence being denied but Livefight canít repeat the details for legal reasons.

LF) You were an excellent amateur and were developing very well in your first few years as a pro; do you feel youíve ever fulfilled your potential?

SB) No not at all. Itís frustrating but just the way it is. Iíve got a lot left at the age of 40 but no where near what I had. I want a busy year this year and box every six to eight weeks but if I lose another fight Iíll bow out and retire.

Bendall edges Smith


LF) Thereís a great selection of British middleweights around right now in Barker (who Steve has already fought), Macklin, Murray etc. Would you like to fight one of those guys?

SB) Yeah Iíd love to box any of them if given the opportunity but it wonít happen unless itís in a foreign country. Thereíre good fights to be made though Marcos Nader would be someone Iíd like to face. Nader (unbeaten at 18-0-1 from Austria) is good but not a puncher Iíd fancy my chances with him.

Itís funny but I remember many years ago talking to Dean Francis about how weíd like to get out of boxing by 32 and we are both still active to this day. At the time I lost my licence to box in the UK I only wanted another year to make some money before retiring. If that hadnít of happened I wouldnít be boxing to this day.

Iím trying to think about life after boxing right now. Thereís a young pro I train called Jake Gosling. He came to my gym just wanting to lose weight and get fit but I saw he had something and now heís 2-0 as a pro. Heís a middleweight too and we spar together and have done for two years now.

Eventually Iíd like to have a stable of fighters, Bournemouth isnít really known for its boxing but maybe we can bring some more interest here.

@MikeUndisputed

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