THE vacant British middleweight championship is on the line when Mark Heffron and Denzel Bentley clash in a rematch at the BT Sport Studio in Stratford on Friday night (November 13). In September, they drew over 10 rounds in a rousing eliminator, all three judges scoring 95-95. They were set to meet again in a final eliminator before Liam Williams vacated, setting up a return for the vacant British title between his Queensberry stablemates that should provide good entertainment for viewers tuning in on BT Sport.
Styles gelled well when they met before in what Martin Bowers, head of the Peacock gym where Battersea’s Bentley is based, called a “bull-and-the-matador fight.”
Switch-hitter Bentley was mobile, loose around the shoulders and quick to counter, while Heffron, 25-1-1 (19), looked to walk him into the corners and unload, switching his attacks from body to head.
The only knockdown was scored by Bentley in the second round – courtesy of a pinpoint southpaw back hand – and had it not been for that 10-8 round, Heffron would have won.
The extra two rounds on Friday night may suit the 28-year-old from Oldham. In the first fight, he appeared to win more of his rounds in the second half, without ever being able to dominate.
Of the two, Heffron seemed the more disappointed with the drawn verdict.
Richie Woodhall, scoring the fight at ringside for broadcasters BT Sport, had Heffron a point up at the final bell. Bowers believes Bentley did enough to pinch it. “Denzel hit him with the cleaner shots,” he said, “but it was close.”
Kevin Maree, Heffron’s manager, says the draw has turned out to be “the best result for both fighters.” He explained: “If there had been a winner, they would have had to wait for the Board to decide what’s next and then wait for purse bids.
“There aren’t many shows at the moment and they might have had to wait until next March to get a shot.”
Maree concedes he underestimated Bentley, 13-0-1 (11), going into the first fight and that was understandable.The 25-year-old had been comparatively untested in 13 previous fights – 10 wins inside two rounds – and he’d never before gone beyond six rounds. Against Heffron, Bentley proved himself to be comfortable under pressure, quick to go through the gears and good at changing the angle of his punches.
Bentley, who possibly had his best moments when he boxed as a left-hander, has talent – and he proved he can tough it out as well. But the ninth round was hard for the South Londoner. Twice he was badly dazed, but both times his head quickly cleared and he got through the crisis.
The second round knockdown aside, Bentley’s punches had less effect on Heffron. On the few occasions Bentley held his feet and put maximum power into his punches in a bid to put Heffron on the back foot, he just walked through them.
This time, Bentley has to keep Heffron off him for two more rounds and we’re not sure that he can. Expect another hard and close fight and for Heffron – who’s had some top sparring with light-heavyweight Lyndon Arthur – to get the nod.
The Verdict Heffron and Bentley promise to deliver another exciting fight.