The last time Benny Costantino was in-between fights, he waited 10 years to get back in the ring.
It’s only been five months this time, but the 40-year-old Costantino is as anxious as ever to get between the ropes again and try to keep his perfect record in tact.
A Warwick resident, Costantino fought six times professionally between 1998 and 2001 before taking a decade off from the sport. When he returned last October, he didn’t miss a beat, as he ran his professional record to 7-0 with a unanimous decision victory over Odias Dumezil at Twin River Casino in Lincoln.
Now, he’ll try to take the next step.
On Thursday, May 22, Costantino will be fighting Yolexy Leiva, a 33-year-old boxer from Nashville, Tenn.
Leiva has a 4-2 professional record, but he hasn’t fought since last March.
Still, he should provide a good challenge for Costantino, who is confident that going through Leiva is the next step to keeping his comeback tour headed in the right direction.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Costantino said. “I’m fighting a guy who’s coming to win, which I wanted. That’s all I can ask for.”
The fight is one of seven on the card for Jimmy Burchfield’s Classic Entertainment & Sports (CES), Inc., “Home Invasion” event, which is the first part of the 2012 Twin River Thursday Night Fight Series.
Costantino has actually signed on to fight four times – including Thursday – in Twin River’s Thursday Night Fight Series over the next 10 months.
For now, though, he’s concentrating on Leiva.
While Costantino has never seen Leiva fight in person, he’s done some research online.
If what he found is any indication of what to expect on Thursday, Costantino will be prepared.
“He’s in very good shape, but he stands right in front of you,” Costantino said. “He kind of punches, and in a way, says, ‘If I land first, I’ll be okay, hopefully you don’t land.’ I think he’s making a mistake doing that with me. I feel very good about the fight. I think it’s going to be a tough fight.”
The fight will be fought at 160 pounds, down from the 170 that Costantino fought at against Dumezil and much closer to his goal weight of 154.
That weight drop has Costantino feeling healthy, but there were still some factors that almost led to the upcoming fight being postponed – most notably a throat condition that he developed over the past few months.
Costantino was having trouble swallowing his food and even water, and knew something was wrong. When he went to the doctor, he found out that the rings in his throat were enflamed.
It had nothing to do with fighting – it was simply genetic – but it affected the way he was training.
He couldn’t run as much without experiencing discomfort, and sparring wasn’t the answer right off the bat. He amped up his workout in other areas, but it still wasn’t ideal.
“It’s like I’m swallowing a golf ball,” Costantino said.
Since then, it’s improved, although it’s still not perfect.
But not one to make excuses, Costantino isn’t spending much time dwelling on it. Instead, he’s just adjusting.
“After the round, I won’t have my trainer take my mouthpiece out, or give me any water,” Costantino said. “Because that bothers it.”
Lately, he’s picked up his sparring regimen, including an intense session this past Tuesday night.
If there were any concerns that he wasn’t ready for next week, they were quickly put to bed.
“Now sparring is going great,” he said. “I’m feeling really good.”
Against an opponent like Leiva, that might be the key.
“I spar some tough kids,” Costantino said. “I got hit and I felt it in my feet. But I didn’t get hurt, I didn’t get dizzy. And that’s important.”
The only thing left do is actually get in the ring. Next week, Costantino is hoping to once again pick up right where he left off.
To purchase tickets for “Home Invasion,” which range in price from $35-$125, call CES at (401) 724-2253 or (401) 724-2254. Tickets can also be purchased online at www.cesboxing.com or www.twinriver.com, or in person at the Players Club booth at Twin River or any TicketMaster location.
The doors to the event will open at 6 p.m., while the first fight is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Other fights, besides Costantino’s, include Eddie Soto vs. Jason “School Boy” Pires, Vladine Biosse vs. George Armenta and Carlos Hernandez vs. Robert Hunt.
There will also be an after party following Costantino’s fight at Ozzie’s Steak Burgers, located at 1795 Post Road in Warwick. Ozzie’s will provide food, as will Cosmic Steak and Pizza.