Despite looking like a two fight card which could have plodded to a predictable conclusions, last night’s Frank Warren and Queensbury Promotions BT broadcast show provided thrills and chills

Headlining, Denzel Bentley was keen to banish ghosts of his other maiden British Middleweight Title defence at York Hall, which ended in a conclusive stoppage loss to a monstrous Felix Cash last April. Bentley was honest with me when we spoke ahead of last night’s fight with Marcus Morrison, admitting that he had planned to be knocking around world level now, rather than British. On paper this could have been more even than Bentley’s right hand allowed it to be.

Marcus Morrison has fought far up the scales to Bentley, most notably in a loss at super middleweight in November last year to Zach Parker. Previous to this Lord Lonsdale contest Morrison weighed in at 170lbs to outpoint stubborn but unambitious Seamus Devlin. Any concern that size might be an issue were long gone midway through the second round. After a first where both Bentley and Morrison showed they could be buzzed, they set to and while exciting it was clear Bentley had more about him.

Stiffening up slightly in the opening round, the champion seemed to snap Morrison’s nose at the end of the second with one of his destructive right hands, and with that the bout went south for the Gallagher’s Gym fighter. Morrison was all heart and timed his shots excellently, but he couldn’t keep the Battersea man off him. And good lord is it wise to keep Denzel Bentley off you if you can.

Roared on by a whipped up crowd, Bentley turned the screw, throwing caution to the wind, and in the fourth stanza Joe Gallagher not only threw the towel in but got on the apron himself to ensure his fighter’s safety. Given the evening’s preceding pugilism, pride must have been hard to swallow, but there’s more at risk in the ring.

Denzel Bentley is still the British Middleweight champion, conclusively so, and it’s a title I’d like to see him try and win outright. I’m a sentimentalist though, and crucially a writer not a fighter. The busy Bentley will probably only defend again if it means a fight before the end of the year. I went as a fan, and am always rooting for Denzel; it’ll never happen but he’d scare the bejesus out of Chris Eubank Jr. and it would be one hell of a fight.

Every ounce of me wants to put four paragraphs of praiseful prose down for Ellis Zorro and Dec Spelman’s encapsulating cruiserweight scrap, which Zorro took 77-74. But there’s a more pressing issue, sorry chaps. Referee Chas Coakley and (then) unbeaten featherweight Frank Arnold’s corner left a dangerous, unconscious reminder of why all fighters need to be treated the same in the ring.

If Arnold was an away fighter like Brayan Mairena, his opponent, he would have been waved unfit to continue in the first, failing to duck the telegraphed and hardly snappy Nicaraguan’s looping right hand. It was the kind of favourable refereeing which normally sees a prospect through to the final bell and a nervous “win”. Coakley is far from my favourite referee, he’s uneven on safety and one of the more blatantly home fighter biased of officiants, in my opinion.

Arnold did briefly have his moments and he’s clearly not a quitter. Watching him take predictable punch after predictable punch, stiffen up and eventually be cut down against the ropes in the third, it was all over. Only it wasn’t over because in a stupid display of bravado and prejudice, Arnold’s corner didn’t pull their man out and Coakley enabled the idiocy. Brayan Mairena, by this point looking confused as to what more he needed to do, sickeningly sent Arnold sucking in canvas with his right hand in round four.

Several minutes of medical intervention only stoked my ire; this is the kind of bullshit that boxing is indefensible against. Arnold was done and if he wasn’t a home fighter who sold tickets, would have been lucky to see the second round. This is not a criticism of him, Mairena is the only man to take the terrifying Michael Walsh the distance, fighters need to be challenged if they are to progress.

Frank Arnold could not have given more last night, but he shouldn't have needed to have gone out like he did. Brayan Mairena’s win will keep his status as a danger opponent, the kind with ambition I wish there was more of. If he hadn’t knocked consciousness from Frank Arnold, I would be very surprised to see him get the win. I want to see Chas Coakley’s card, BBBofC, please.

Writing that is hard, because I’m now about to celebrate fighters who blasted guys out and criticise those who didn’t. Such is the dichotomy of this sport.

Royston Barney Smith snapped Paul Holt’s head back with only his second southpaw shot of the fight. Smith did not need anymore encouragement and set about putting his super featherweight foe down and out at 36 seconds of round one.

Welterweight Khalid Ali has fans and talent, but needs to do more. Pleasing, punishing work in the first and second rounds, both coming too late to secure a stoppage, faded into a drab points win over Dario Borosa. The Croatian away fighter offered the bare minimum and Ali will know he could have done better than a shutout 60-54 win.

Reiss Taylor was in fighting mood after being halted in the fifth of six by Adan Mohamed at around bantamweight. He and Team Southpaw Jab’s Southern Area Super Flyweight champion Jack Hughes tore into one another on Twitter- a boxing contest I’d like to see but won’t happen.

40-36 victories for Arnold Obodai at cruiserweight and Joel Kodua at middle propped up the show, both are novices who remain unbeaten.

While exciting, Brayan Mairena’s battering of Frank Arnold was an upset in more ways than one and stained my memory of a show which Denzel Bentley, Ellis Zorro and (even in defeat) Dec Spelman should be proud of.


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