Two unbeaten fighters, two traditional titles, opinion split on who will win and a simmering rivalry. This weekend’s British and Commonwealth middleweight title fight between Denzel Bentley and Felix Cash has everything a boxing fan could hope for. For all the latest fight odds, visit our sportsbook.
Show promoter, Frank Warren, has a history of putting his hand in his pocket and securing his fighters’ home advantage when the stakes are high. This weekend’s fight might not be a transatlantic mega fight but it is a high profile, cross promotional affair between a Queensbury fighter and one from Matchroom and Warren did his best to ensure British champion, Bentley, would have all the familiarity and advantages that fighting on his home promotion provides.
Bentley (14-0-1, 12 KO’s) hasn’t been pushed into this position. He first earned a chance with Warren after stepping in to save one of his dinner shows just hours after a hard sparring session. He has earned his spot.
“18 rounds in a day and a proper fight. That shows you what kind of fighter Denzel is,” Warren told 32Red.
“Out of the pandemic, he’s benefitted. He’s been very busy and the reason we’ve been able to give him lots of fights is because he’s constantly in the gym so you know he’s fit and well. Martin [Bowers, his manager] has been really pushing him and badgering me every day about him so the pandemic has benefitted him in that he’s got a lot more experience and he’s ended up topping bills.
“I’ve gotta be honest, the way Martin and Tony Bowers have managed him has been brilliant. They knew how it would be and they told him that from the start. All of this wasn’t something that was expected for him or something that we were just going to give to him, he had to go and earn it.
“He’s improved in every fight too. That’s what’s been so good about him and now he’s in a tough fight. Felix Cash isn’t a bad fighter at all, they’ve got history and I think we’re gonna get a bit of a cracker.”
Promoting Olympic medallists and big punching heavyweights can be straightforward. Finding a diamond in the rough is a different matter. Not every fighter is going to catch on with the public no matter how many fights they win. British boxing is crying out for characters and there are signs that should Bentley win this weekend his infectious character and explosive style could make him a real attraction when crowds are allowed to return.
“Whatever happens on Saturday night. Denzel’s earned the right to be there,” Warren said. “However the result goes – and I think it’s gonna go our way – he’s got there the hard way and deserves it.
“He’s a good kid. The ones who do it the hard way always turn out to be good kids. It hasn’t been given to them on a plate and they’ve had to go out and earn it properly.”
Callum Johnson certainly hasn’t had things handed to him on a plate. The Lincolnshire light heavyweight makes his BT debut this weekend and he has all the necessary ingredients to become an attraction. Johnson joins having already fought for a world title but at a time when the sport is crying out for exciting, aggressive knock out artists, Johnson (18-1, 13 KO’s) has been on the shelf for two years. Warren doesn’t feel the need to bring him along slowly, Johnson will be thrown straight into the mix. He fights Emil Malic (32-2, 24 KO’s) on Saturday.
“I don’t know what’s happened there [with the lay-off]. He started out with us and now he’s back,” Warren said. “The fact he has been so inactive may help because there’s no miles on the clock. Callum’s trained and worked hard and now he’s in a really good place and he’s got a good chance.
“He’s in with a really good opponent after two years away so let’s see what he’s made of.”
Joshua Buatsi apart, BT has become the home for the cream of the British light heavyweight crop. Johnson joins Lyndon Arthur and Anthony Yarde and it seems inevitable that the trio will take part in an exciting round robin in the not too distant future. In fact, Yarde and Arthur are already booked in for part two of their rivalry after Arthur upset the odds to win their first meeting last December. All Johnson needs to do is keep winning and the big fights he has always craved seem inevitable.
“They [Arthur and Yarde] have both got their respective fights and the winners have got to fight each other. That’s done. That’s where we are.
“It’s a thriving division as far as the Brits are concerned with Lyndon and Anthony and Callum’s obviously gonna be a big part of it. Whoever is the best of them will come out of it.
“Callum will be wanting to fight for world title before any of them. He’s well and truly in that mix and he deserves to be. They’ve all got the chance to find out who the best is.”