BT Sport may get criticised for not quite having the strength in depth of their Sky Sports competitors but Saturday’s night fight is just another great example of what they do better than most others. Two British fighters, two unbeaten records, bags full of talent and a clash which promises to kick start the career of two winners fast approaching elite level boxing.
Denzel Bentley comes into the contest with momentum. His victory over Mark Heffron a definitive ending to a two-fight tug for the Lonsdale belt. Bentley’s beginnings in boxing are by no means unique but they are still interesting. An older brother keen to make a quick buck bought a boxing set and asked people on Bentley’s Patmore estate between Vauxhall and Battersea to pay to fight each other. Nobody paid but they still were up for the fight, the teenager taking on the brightest and best in his corner of South London.Embed from Getty Images
Things got more official at high school and Bentley started training at Fisher ABC in Bermondsey, a gym that needs little introduction. A production line of top British boxers, three have won world titles and recent products include Ted Cheeseman.
Starting university and studying Sports Science, boxing wasn’t Bentley’s be all and end all but it took just two amateur fights for that to change. Dropping out and embarking on a career where nothing is promised and everything can be lost is a bold move. It is one that has paid off and his single-mindedness outside the ring has been reflected in his desire to step up and take on increasingly harder challenges.
Now fighting out of the Peacock Gym in Epping, under the tutelage of his trainer/manager Martin Bowers and Ray Bull everything has gone to plan for Denzel “2 Sharp” Bentley. Across him on Saturday night will be Felix Cash, another boxer who will come into the fights with a huge amount of self-belief.
Cash’s background is perhaps the more conventional of the two, three and a half years spent with the Team GB set up prior to signing professional terms with Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Boxing in 2016. A five-time national amateur champion, schooling meets spite with Cash a fighter that has displayed devastating tendencies on numerous occasions and an edge that adds something to a polished skill set.Embed from Getty Images
His most recent fight may have been against a Jason Welborn stepping up in weight but he wore some good shots before pummelling the one time world title challenger into submission within five rounds. The fact he was willing to stand and trade was as much a sign of his respect for his opposition as any indication of his defensive skills. Cash has all the tricks and it will be something of which Bentley is well aware.
Much has been made of the two’s spar in the Fisher gym now well into the distant past and it was one which ended in, according to Bentley, a scrap on the floor and trainers stepping into separate the two of them. That adds an element of spice but Cash is too experienced to expect the same fighter he saw back in the fledgling days of Bentley’s life as a pro.
For both men this is the biggest fight of their career and one that has come perhaps earlier than we expect. Cash is ranked 18th in Boxrec’s middleweight rankings, Bentley 20th. Cash 14th in the WBO, Bentley 9th. In the WBC Bentley is 21st and Cash 22nd. Both are well placed and could realistically bide their time and choose easier foes higher up both of those rankings. But with the pandemic adding an impatience to many fighters mindset and both men unwilling to relinquish their belts (Cash – Commonwealth, Bentley – British) the fight greets us now and it’s a scenario nobody’s complaining about.
A win for either man will provide not just a boost up the rankings but also put the victor within two or three fights of a world title. For the loser add some years onto that journey but it shouldn’t be terminal nonetheless. Think James DeGale versus George Groves or more recently Dillian Whyte against Anthony Joshua, this is a fight where both of them could lose on Saturday and come again.
26 year old Bentley, 28 year old Cash, for all the Youtube gimmicks, exhibition farces and the rest there’s still top class boxing to be found and it’s on your TV on Saturday night. With Callum Johnson, George Davey and David Adeleye also on the card it’s one well worth tuning in for.
Watch live on BT Sport from 7.30pm, Saturday 24th April.
Featured image by BT Sport and Queensbury Promotions.
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