There is a good old British title fight in Manchester this weekend.
Middleweight champion, Denzel Bentley, hasn’t been shy about stating that he wants to return to the world stage rather than continuing on at British level and Nathan Heaney is a massive ticket seller who – instead of jumping at a fight with the dangerous Bentley – could have easily decided to bide his time and wait for a shot at a vacant title. For all the latest fight odds, visit our sportsbook.
Instead, eager to stay busy and prove themselves the best, both fighters simply said ‘Yes’ when the fight was offered.
“It’s risk versus reward”
“100%. Especially with what you’ve seen lately with the boxing demographic, with these YouTubers fighting. I think British boxing has been diluted as a result of that,” unbeaten Heaney (17-0, 6 KO’s) told 32Red.
“This is a proper, great fight. One lad who has already fought for a world title and wants to push on to world honours and me wanting to fight for the title I’ve always dreamt of. I think it sets a good example for other lads too.”
Heaney has had a remarkable rise since footage of him singing his way to the ring to the Stoke City anthem ‘Delilah’ made its way around social media a few years ago. The Potters fan has formed a close connection with his fellow supporters and they follow him in droves. Inevitably, talk quickly turned to him fighting at the football club’s stadium and it seemed like Heaney’s dream of fighting for the famous British title would be the ideal event to take to the ground.
That was the plan but Heaney has decided to gamble on his own ability. A win on Saturday night will not only see him achieve the dream that formed when he was a teenager but set the 34-year-old up for a monumental night next year.
“It’s risk versus reward,” he said. “The whole thing has been getting me to the football ground and I always envisioned this fight happening at the football ground. But by winning a British title, that sets up something much bigger in the future. Especially with Frank Warren saying at the last press conference that he promises the winner will get a world title shot next year. It’s massive.
“It’s come at the perfect time”
“The week after my fight will be six years after I made my debut. It’s not like it’s been a quick thing. It’s taken time but I think it’s come at the perfect time to be honest. I never knew how people got British titles to be honest. I didn’t know how you get mandated. I don’t know the process of how it even happens so to find out I was getting the chance was great. I always believed I would fight for it, I just didn’t know when it would happen.”
Future dreams need to be put on hold for the time being. Heaney is well aware that he faces a massive task this weekend. Bentley is a ferocious puncher who visibly grew in confidence and stature during his unsuccessful world title challenge to WBO champion, Janibek Alimkhanuly, last year and savagely knocked out Kieran Smith in his only appearance since.
“Bentley’s good, I know what he can do”
He appears to be a fighter on the rise and you have to look into Bentley’s past for clues to victory. Mark Heffron gave him problems in their first meeting, Felix Cash stopped him early in a behind the doors clash and Linus Udofia pushed him to the limit in their British title fight. Heaney knows exactly what Bentley can do but is concentrating on performing to his best on the night.
“I just think I’m an overall good boxer. I’ve got a good jab, I control distance well and I’ve been boxing for 23 years. I’ve got experience. I’ve been in with everyone,” he said.
“I’m a big underdog with the bookies and it’s because he’s fought at a higher level. He has failed at a higher level as well. That makes no difference though. You perform how you perform on the night. They were all different opponents that he had. Linus was a very close fight and one judge had him winning. But Bentley’s very good and I know what he can do.
“On our way through, I always knew about Bentley. Some of the opponents I was fighting in the early days had boxed Bentley. I looked at them and he’d stopped them and I hadn’t. You could look at that and think, ‘I know he’s a tough journeyman and he’s stopped him.’ so I know he’s got that danger power with him. We have to see what happens on the night.”