Benny Costantino’s comeback tour hasn’t really gone according to plan since it began back in October of 2011.
It started off well enough. Returning to the ring after a 10-year hiatus, Costantino, 41, won by unanimous decision over Odias Dumezil. But the good times ended soon after, when he lost by TKO in his next two fights, most recently to Dennis Ogboo this past July.
Even worse then the losses themselves were the circumstances surrounding them. In his first loss, back in March, Costantino fractured an orbital bone under his left eye on a punch from Yolexcy Leiva. Costantino wanted to continue, and was very much still in the fight, but the ref stopped it when he saw the eye. He had to undergo surgery soon after.
Against Ogboo, with the belief that his eye was healed, Costantino carried a lead into the final round until he started experiencing blurry vision in the same eye. He told the ref to stop the fight, despite leading in the final round.
With many people already wondering if his eye was actually healed in the first place, Costantino conceded that maybe they were right.
“I have children, so I worried a little bit,” said Costantino, a Warwick native. “Once that happened, I assumed the worst. At that time, I did the right thing. I started seeing blurry, everyone was in my ear, and I said, ‘Maybe everybody’s right. I’m not about to lose my eyesight.’ I told the ref, ‘That’s it.’”
As it turns out, nobody was quite right. Costantino’s eye was basically entirely healed the night he fought Ogboo.
“I ended up getting an air bubble under my eyelid,” Costantino said. “It sounds bad, but it’s totally harmless. I went to the doctor’s office a couple days after the fight, he drained it, no big deal.”
So with those two losses fresh in his mind – the only two losses of his professional career, as he boasts a 7-2 record with four knockouts – Costantino is ready to go again.
His eye is no longer a detriment, as his vision is back to 20-20, and he sees no reason why he can’t get back to his winning ways. After all, if it wasn’t for the injury in the first place, he might still be undefeated.
“I sparred with a guy that was like 250 pounds,” Costantino said. “He almost took my head off, but my eye was fine. That’s why I did that.”
Costantino will be back in the ring on Friday at Twin River as part of CES Boxing’s “Unfinished Business” card, presented by Jimmy Burchfield. Costantino will be taking on 2-3-1 Emmanuel Medina, whose most recent fight was a loss on Jan. 25 that was televised on ESPN.
“He’s a lot better than his record,” Costantino said of Medina. “He’s a veteran. He’s a really tough kid. I’m expecting a tough fight, but I’m also expecting a victory.”
The fight will be four rounds and will be taking place at 166 pounds.
That weight is as light as Costantino has been in quite some time, and he’s feeling as strong as he’s been at any point since returning to the ring 16 months ago.
“I’m very confident in my abilities still,” he said. “My chin is still second to none. You have to have that. No matter what athleticism you have, no matter what age you are, if you don’t have that your foundation is gone.”
He also knows what to expect from Medina. He’s seen him sparring at his gym in Boston previously, so he knows what he’s getting in to.
“I’ve actually seen him in the gym a couple of times,” Costantino said. “He trains in Boston, I’ve been to the gym. I’ve seen him spar when I never thought I was going to fight him.”
And Costantino, with the help of his trainer Brian Pennachia, hopes this is the beginning of his real comeback.
With no injuries and no extenuating circumstances, Costantino still thinks he can be a force to be reckoned with. He plans to fight at least five times in 2013, and Friday could be the jumping-off point for a run of success.
“Barring any unforeseen injuries, I’m going to go until I can’t go,” Costantino said. “Age is nothing to me.”
Headlining the “Unfinished Business” card is Rhode Island’s Peter Manfredo Jr., who will be taking on Walter Wright in the 10-round main event. There will also be Joey Gardner vs. Reynaldo Rodriguez, as well as six other fights.
Tickets for “Unfinished Business” are $40, $60, $100 and $150 (VIP) and can be purchased by calling CES at (401)724-2253/2254, online at www.cesboxing.com or www.twinriver.com, at the Players Club booth at Twin River or through any TicketMaster location. Doors open 6 p.m. with the first bout scheduled for 7.
The after party for Costantino’s fight will be at Sullivan’s Public House at 941 West Shore Road in Warwick. Cosmic Pizza will be supplying the pizza for the event.
Costantino hopes he’ll be celebrating a much-needed victory.
“I’m very much looking forward to winning,” he said.