Is Denzel Bentley going to change anything during this weekend’s rematch with Mark Heffron?
“Yeah, there are some things.”
When he watched September’s draw back, did he notice any glaring errors or things he could tighten up?
“There were a few things.”
Anybody would think the unbeaten middleweight was sick of hearing Heffron’s name.
“Oh, I am. I’m not gonna lie to you,” Bentley laughed when talking to 32Red. “I’m over him. I can’t wait to get this done. I’m stopping him this time. For all the latest fight odds, visit our sportsbook.
“If I did the same again I think I’ll win but who knows what the judges are scoring. It’s better to be safe than sorry.”
Anybody who spends time drawing up plans and blueprints finds it extremely difficult to screw them up and throw them away because somebody else thinks it could have been done differently. On the whole, Bentley’s plan to rein in the aggression and box cleverly worked. He dropped Heffron in the second round and apart from a heavy shot in the ninth, he stayed out of serious danger for the majority of the time. Get the redesign wrong and there’s that worry that you could end up with something that you aren’t confident in and isn’t up to the job.
“Not really for me because I feel I’m capable of doing it. I just think that might make the difference this time,” Bentley said.
“I don’t really know what the judges are scoring so to do the same thing again makes no sense. I watch it back and think that I’m landing the much cleaner stuff but maybe to the judges it looked like I was fighting scared. I wasn’t. If I were to do the same again maybe they’ll be thinking that this guy’s power is overwhelming me.”
Some boxers leave the gym, throw their bag under the stairs and pay the sport no more attention until it is once again time to wrap the hands and pick up the skipping rope. Bentley isn’t one of those fighters. A couple of weeks ago, three of the sport’s biggest stars – Naoya Inoue, Oleksandr Usyk and Gervonta Davis – wowed boxing fans with different but equally impressive performances. Bentley earned respect for the way he dealt with Heffron’s pressure in September but he wants to create that type of viral moment that keeps people talking for weeks.
“I love it. It got me excited. It made me want to be at that level even more than ever. You look at them and think, ‘I wanna do that.’ I wanna be a guy who has a mad performance and everybody is going on about it all weekend. I’m a fan as well. When I saw the Tank Davis knockout I was screaming. My family were asleep and I was up shouting. It was nuts. I think because I have a date coming up I felt it even more. I want that. I wanna be that guy.
“In basketball terms, if Lebron James is going up against the best defender in the league and is just bullying him I love that. If a fighter with that kind of dominance is doing it against a high level of opponent or he’s gone up in weight and he’s dominating guys up there, I love to see that. A fifty-fifty fight is good but when you’ve got somebody who is dominating people in those type of fights, that’s beast mode. That gets me excited.”
Bentley has faced pressure throughout his career. Early on he had the pressure of selling tickets to earn his spot on shows, then he dealt with the pressure of impressing promoters enough to earn a contract. Before the first fight with Heffron he felt the weight of doubt for the first time. The fight captured the imagination of boxing fans when it was announced and built momentum as the first bell drew closer. By the time Bentley and Heffron stood in the centre of the ring listening to the referee’s final instructions, fans, bookmakers and boxing insiders were still split down the middle on who would win.
“I was pleased with how I handled it,” he remembered. “I didn’t really bite to anybody on social media who was tagging me in to photos of their bets with me getting knocked out.
“I had people doubting me but it was exciting to me. The way people were talking it was as if I was an easy way for him to get back into the scene and that he was gonna knock me out. All of that. I showed I’m a lot better than all those guys thought and on the November 13th I’m gonna show that again.”
The coronavirus has brought a temporary end to one of boxing’s most modern rituals. Before they hit play on the Sky+ box and rewatch their fight, lots of fighters spend time thumbing through videos on their phone, reliving the night through the eyes of the those who were in the arena. Recently, the trend seems to have been for friends and family to record their reactions as they watch on television. Normally fired up by a few drinks and the atmosphere in the arena, watching their friend fight from the comfort of their living room has turned some into boxing’s version of Gary Neville.
“People were saying things like, ‘Look, Denzel, I know you’re the boxer but you were doing this and you were doing that wrong.” Yeah, that’s just what I wanted to hear,” he laughed.
“No, no. It was good. I was surprised to be honest. I got back home and I was wondering how everybody was gonna react. Everybody was proud of me. I got a little cheer and everybody was saying, “You won that, man.” They were all upset I got a draw but they all said it was a sick fight and I boxed well. There were loads of compliments and everybody was good. They saw I showed a different side to me. It was an upbeat vibe.”