Ahead of his British Middleweight Title defence against Marcus Morrison on September 16th at York Hall, Denzel Bentley talks to Adam Thorn about his Udofia thriller, immediate career and how he’d deal with Cristiano Ronaldo

Denzel Bentley is British Champion, again. The heavy handed Battersea middleweight has been a professional five years in October and the Lord Lonsdale belt was his first strap; he won it by halting Mark Heffron in the fourth round of their rematch (the first was a non-title draw) in November 2020. In his first defence Bentley was stopped himself, his first and only defeat, by Felix Cash.

A chance to win the British Title back came in May, with Cash having vacated, against Luton’s skilful and unbeaten Linus Udofia. It was a pick ‘em and an incredibly exciting back and forth fight, in front of a crowd rather than behind closed, Covid-y doors. He’s still proud of the split decision victory and it’s one he feels he deserved (for what it’s worth I agree),

“It was good to win the belt back in a fight like that, it made the feeling even sweeter that people were there to see it live in the flesh rather than it being in the back of a studio… It was a great fight, people still come up to me now saying how much they enjoyed the fight so I’m proud of that.”

“At the final bell I was confident that I won, I thought the second half was all mine and I thought a couple of the early rounds as well. I was a bit shocked when I heard ‘split decision’. I have watched it back and I still think I won and I enjoy watching it.”

Four months on from that win, Bentley will face former Chris Eubank Jr. opponent Marcus Morrison, who has lost two of his last five. One of those losses was to Eubank Jr. on points and the other to Zach Parker up at super middleweight, where he was stopped in the fourth. Morrison showed that in the face of overwhelming power he can still counter punch, but was ultimately chopped down by body shots that night.

A puncher himself, Bentley rightly still holds respect for the former WBC International Silver Middleweight champion, "He moved up to fight Parker for the opportunity, but he’s a middle not really a super middle… He’s a good fighter, he carries power and he starts off quite sharp so I’ve gotta be on point.”

Morrison, despite his jump up a weight recently, isn’t an out of the blue opponent, though. He first got put to Bentley before lockdown, “but he didn’t take it so I ended up fighting Mick Hall”. That was before the British belt became his, and since Denzel became champion Morrison has “been calling me out”.

Beating Morrison would cement the British Title, and mean a couple more defences make the belt his own, something Bentley, a fighter who likes to keep busy, is open to. Boxing doesn’t always work like that though, and he’s intelligent and realistic on his future relationship with the belt, and his aspirations over the next year. “I dunno man, I’m not sure” he says,

“If the opportunity presents itself that would be amazing but if there’s other opportunities there that I can’t turn down I’m not going to hang around at domestic level for too long. If I get a quick turnaround after this, God willing I come out on top, no injuries or anything then yeah why not. 

“Twelve months ago I didn’t think I’d be here where I lost the belt and bounced back. I thought I’d be high in the rankings pushing for world honours and that’s where I’d like to be so you can never tell you know.”

“Take things one step at a time and after this fight I’ll look at what’s next and push on from there. I can’t think about twelve months from now because I’ve got Morrison in front of me and I still want to get another one before this year is out too.”

Using his spare time to enjoy his food and playing football, “I’m not so good anymore but I still like to play!” I ask the Manchester United fan what he’d do with Cristiano Ronaldo, the mercurial talent and monumental ego who seems to be jamming up the club’s progression.

“You’ve either got to give him a free role to just do what he wants, or get rid of him. There’s no point in giving him a job to do, he’s at a level where if you’re gonna play him you have to give him a free role to express himself, he’s the best player in the world.”

Half agreeing with Denzel, in that United should get rid of Ronaldo, we finish on the fight against Morrison on September 16th at York Hall. Bentley will not have fought in front of fans there for four years, and knowing how much beating Udofia to true applause meant, I wonder if the place of his debut provides him impetus. The champion is focused and to the point,

“York Hall is an iconic venue. It will definitely pump me up.”

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