In an action packed Wasserman Boxing promotion in Greenwich, London (Fri 13th) Denzel Bentley regained the British middleweight title with a hard fought split decision victory over Linus Udofia. Scores were 116-112, 114-115, 115-113.
In gaining his second notch on the famous Lonsdale Belt towards winning it outright, having first won the title in 2020, the Battersea puncher emphatically returned from his shock April 2021 defeat to Felix Cash.
The contest was a barnstormer which ebbed and flowed over the twelve round distance. Bentley started slowly, pot shotting with big punches as Udofia looked the more composed and compact. The ex-champion came through difficult moments early on before landing a big right hand in the third causing Udofia to hold on mid round. Although Bentley (16-1-1, 13 KO’s) looked the more ragged, at times swinging wild looping shots, his power was the more evident whenever he landed.
Udofia (17-1, 9 KO’s), from Luton, kept the centre of the ring through much of the fight with a tighter defence and controlling it’s pace, but the strong shots from Bentley were clearly having a cumulative effect. The Londoner finished rounds seven and eight strongly and controlled the fight from therein.
It was a backwards and forwards contest with no knockdowns, but held before a boisterous crowd made excellent entertainment for those also viewing on Channel 5. The Undisputed had a final score of 115-113 in Bentley’s favour and it was a worthy victory for the local man. The exciting puncher now moves onto a third British title win and possible international recognition.
The event was the promoter’s new venture with the free to air television channel and it was ably supported by an eliminator for the same title between Ryan Kelly and Brad Pauls. This was the fight of the night as the Cornishman Pauls eeked out a decision victory to become Bentley’s mandatory contender. In his post-fight interview Pauls gave credit to his challenger “He gave me the toughest fight of my life. Hats off to Ryan Kelly”.
Pauls goes to 16-0 (9 KO’s) and Kelly drops to 16-4 (8 KO’s). The contest drew widespread applause on referee Marcus McDonnell’s prompt at the start of the final round. Well deserved.
The knockout of the night was Brighton’s junior-welterweight Harlem Eubank in poleaxing Sean ‘Masher’ Dodds with a perfectly timed left hook 2:24 into the second. The gifted Eubank (14-0, 6 KO’s) continues the family fistic heritage being the son of Chris Eubank Sr and joining brother Chris Jr high in the British rankings. On being interviewed he said “I feel like I’m driving to the top of the division”. Few would argue on this performance.
There was a minor controversy on the night with the late withdrawal of Albanian Xhuljo Vrenozi who was due to fight Sunderland’s Josh Kelly in the chief support. The comebacking Kelly apologised to his fans on stage as it was announced the Albanian had allegedly locked himself in his hotel room and refused to leave to fight. This was disappointing but didn’t detract from an excellent card.
Up in Manchester the BOXXER cruiserweight elimination series was won by Ellis Zorro (14-0, 6 KO’s) from Lewisham, London. He won the £40,000 winner take all prize with three composed and assured performances over the event. He was the calmer over the duration, refusing to be sidetracked by verbal challenge from his opponents and made the most of his solid skills to win first prize.
Zorro won all his fights on points, beating Jay Farrell and Jamie Smith and Ricky Reeves in a competitive but low key final (30-27, 29-28, 29-28). As well as the first prize he also gained a new BOXXER multi-fight contract and looks a good addition to their ranks.
On being interviewed after the final he committed most of his prize towards funding speech therapy for his young daughter who suffers from autism. Another nice touch from a class act.
The weekend also saw good action worldwide with the picks being world ranked heavyweight Martin Bakole (18-1, 13 KO’s) dominating Tony Yoka (11-1, 9 KO’s) in Paris to win a majority decision. Also, in the US, American Jermell Charlo (35-1-1, 18 KO’s) defeated Brian Castano (17-1-2, 12 KO’s) in Carson City, California. The impressive Charlo scored a tenth round TKO on 2:33 secs and becomes the first undisputed men’s 154lb champion. He dropped the tough Argentinian twice en-route in a very entertaining and competitive fight.