The boxing year is building to a crescendo on BT Sport with the eagerly anticipated Interim world super middleweight title clash between Zach Parker and John Ryder taking place next week before Tyson Fury defends his heavyweight belts against Derek Chisora at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. For the latest fight odds, visit our sportsbook.
Whilst the big names are set to bring the curtain down on 2022, over the past couple of weeks fighters who have been putting in the hard work and steadily moving through the ranks have been given the opportunity to show that they are capable of mixing at the highest level.
“Denzel Bentley did himself proud”
So far, the stable is two for two.
Last weekend, British middleweight champion, Denzel Bentley, visibly grew in front of our eyes during his unsuccessful WBO title tilt against Zhanibek Alimkhanuly. ‘2 Sharp’ may have dropped a unanimous decision, but once he had found his feet he arguably got the better of Alimkhanuly over the second half of the fight and fought the feared Khazak tooth and nail in a thrilling final round. It was the type of performance that Bentley – and his promoter Frank Warren – can build on.
“Nobody fancied Denzel whatsoever but I did a couple of columns for the fight and said that he would give this fella a few problems,” Warren told 32Red. “It was a bit like they used to rave about Jeff Lacy [before he fought Joe Calzaghe]. I watched everything Alimkhanuly’s done and he’s got a good pedigree but he’s had nobody really press him. I spoke to Denzel the other day and told him that when he looks back on the fight he’ll be pissed off with himself because he gave him the first four rounds. If he’d put it on him a bit on those early rounds I don’t know where it would have gone.
“Even in the last round when he got clipped – and he did get hurt because he can whack – but by the end of the round Denzel was on top of him. He proved a lot of people wrong and had he got going earlier he might have won it. I felt that when we made the fight.
“He’s done himself proud. There’s nothing to be worried or ashamed about there. Obviously it’d have been great if he’d won it but he’s not disgraced himself thats for sure. Coming out of the fight, I think he’s got more kudos than he had going into it.”
“Nick Ball did an absolute job on Rubio”
A few hours before Bentley’s stateside heroics, Liverpool’s Nick Ball successfully negotiated a boxing rite of passage by thrilling the knowledgeable crowd at the famous York Hall. Unbeaten Ball demolished the decent – and normally durable – Jesus Rubio inside a round. The exciting featherweight has recently been christened ‘Wrecking Ball’ and more than lived up to his nickname, dropping the Mexican three times in two minutes. Ball looks ready to attack the world scene next year and Warren is happy to let him off the leash.
“That fella’s not a great fighter but he’s not a bad fighter at all and Nick did an absolute job on him didn’t he?” Warren said. “Nick got clipped with a big shot himself in the first round too. All he wants to do is fight. I had someone say he’s a right slugger but he isn’t. He’s a very clever fighter. Watch him. He gets into position well. He’s got great footwork and hand speed and he does damage when he’s doing it.
“Every fight he’s giving away so much height but he gets underneath them and troubles people. I think a lot of fighters look at him and think, ‘I’ll be alright with him’ but once they’re in there he takes the wind out of their sails. He’s got better and better because we’ve kept him active.
“I was so thrilled for him and next year we’ll get him moving and into some really big fights.”
“Now it’s Liam Davies’ chance to show us something”
This weekend, the BT camera’s will be in Telford to witness Liam Davies’ attempt to prove his credentials. Davies looked like an improving fighter when taking the British super bantamweight title from the tricky Marc Leach in June and moves straight into European class. He will take on the Romanian whirlwind, Ionut Baluta, for the European title. If Davies can continue his good form and beat Baluta, he will prove that he too is ready to join Queensbury’s attack on the world scene in 2023.
“This is a good yardstick for Liam to see where he’s at and for us to see too. We’ve got confidence in him and there’s no doubt about it, this is a good match up. It’s a decent little show,” said Warren.
“A lot of fighters get to a stage where you wanna see something extra. It’s up to them to show you something. Nick Ball did it, Denzel did it and now it’s Liam’s chance. He’s capable of it.
“We’ve worked hard in the Midlands to deliver for the fighters. It’s up to Liam to show not just me but everybody watching exactly what he’s about.”
Anthony Yarde will also see some action this weekend. Yarde is scheduled to take on unified light heavyweight champion, Artur Beterbiev, in January and will use this weekend’s fight to get himself back into fighting shape. Yarde hasn’t boxed since getting revenge over Lyndon Arthur last December and will need to be at his absolute best to beat Beterbiev. He will only benefit from swapping punches with Stefani Koykov under the glare of the ring lights.
“This is just a run out for Anthony and then on January 28th he’s got a tough, tough fight but a bloody good fight. It’ll be a good, good fight that will.
“Callum Johnson had him over and Yarde hits harder than Johnson. If he catches him…….”