Benny Costantino has spent plenty of time in the ring. It’s just been a little while.
Costantino, a Warwick resident, became a professional boxer in 1998, but he last fought in 2001.
Now, 10 years later, the 38-year-old Costantino is giving it another shot, and he’s out to prove that he’s still the same fighter who represented team New England at the United States Nationals, had a 44-4 amateur record and had a 6-0 professional record with six knockouts before giving up the sport on a competitive level due to various personal reasons.
“I’m a picture of health,” Costantino said. “I live very clean, the way I feel. A lot of people make it about age. I just go by how I feel and what I know I can do.”
He’ll get a chance to prove what he can do next week on one of Rhode Island’s biggest stages.
Costantino is on the ticket for one of 10 fights at Twin River as a part of Jimmy Burchfield’s Classic Entertainment & Sports (CES), Inc., “Rhode Warriors” event that will take place next Friday, Oct. 7.
Fighting as a super middleweight, at 170 pounds, Costantino will take on Winter Haven, Fla. resident Odias Dumezil.
Dumezil, 34, has a 3-6-0 record, but Costantino isn’t expecting a pushover in his return trip to the ring.
He wouldn’t have it any other way.
“He’s a strong kid,” Costantino said of Dumezil. “Tough guy. If you let him beat you, he will. I didn’t want someone to lie down – that does me no good. I trained way too hard.”
Most of that training has been done at Manfredo’s Gym in Pawtucket, where Costantino has worked with his head trainer, Brian Pennacchia, as well as Peter Manfredo, Sr., the father of current IBO Middleweight Champion Peter Manfredo, Jr.
He’s also spent time at Casey’s Boxing Gym in Warwick, and owner Jimmy Casey, Pennacchia and Manfredo, Sr. will all be in his corner when the fight kicks off next Friday.
With their training and help, plus the help of CES – which acts as his promotion team – Costantino was able to get the fight and get his weight down from around 210 pounds to the 170 he currently weighs.
Once that happened, better boxing came with it.
“When I started fighting with better guys – I’m in the gym with Peter Manfredo, Jr. a lot, who’s a close friend – I started realizing that I’m doing very well,” Costantino said.
Everything, though, starts with dedication.
Costantino has studied nutrition in the past, and uses that as a guide for what he eats. On top of that, he’s employed a vigorous training program that often requires him to get up well before 4 a.m. for distance runs.
It’s not easy, but it’s paying off in a big way.
“In a lot of sports, especially boxing, people are turning pro now in their 30’s,” Costantino said. “Years ago, we thought you were an old man at 35. I feel the best I ever have. My conditioning is probably second to none.”
Plus, Costantino still has the biggest thing going for him
“With boxing, the most important thing – of course, people say age and youth – is you’ve got to be able to take a punch,” Costantino said. “Which I have no problem doing. That, believe it or not, is number one.”
The most recent time Costantino took a punch in a professional fight was November 16, 2001, when he knocked out Matt Hill.
Yet, that fact is irrelevant to Costantino, who is certainly confident that age – or the layoff – won’t be holding him back from anything.
“If I get beat, it won’t be because of age,” Costantino said. “That has nothing to do with it at this point. I’m tough enough, I’m strong enough.”
Now, he’s just looking forward to getting back in the ring.
With the fight only days away, the familiar butterflies have started to come back.
It’s a great feeling for Costantino, who expects to be nervous for his return. Scared, however, is something he won’t be.
“If fighters tell you they’re not nervous, they’re lying to you,” Costantino said. “Fear – absolutely zero. That’s not a cocky statement, that’s a fact. I fear no man. That’s just me. I was born that way and I’ll die that way.”
The fights at Twin River are scheduled to start at 7 p.m., and Costantino’s fight will be four rounds.
He’s not overlooking this bout, but he knows that if he can take care of business over those four rounds, this could be just the beginning.
He hopes to schedule another fight before the end of the year, and then a handful in 2012. If all goes well, the goal is a regional championship.
If that were to happen, lots of doors would open up for Costantino.
“I set my goals on a regional title which, by the end of next year, is feasible,” Costantino said. “I have to do my part and keep winning.”
He’s won in the past. Now, 10 years later, he’ll see if he can do it all over again.
“I was waiting for a reason to stop,” Costantino said. “I never found one.”
To purchase tickets for “Rhode Warriors,” which range in price from $35-$125, call CES at (401) 724-2253 or (401) 724-2254. They 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.