Denzel Bentley reacts to relinquishing British title – with Richard Riakporhe an emphatic winner on same weekend


Denzel Bentley has seen his world title ambitions shattered after he lost his British middleweight title to Nathan Heaney on Saturday night.

The big-punching Battersea boxer was a huge favourite going into the defence of his domestic crown at Manchester Arena.

Bentley told the South London Press that he felt he did enough to win but it was Stoke challenger Heaney that took a majority decision.

One judge scored it level at 114-114 but the other two marked it 116-113 and 117-111 for the unbeaten Heaney, who collected his 18th straight win in the professional ranks.

Bentley’s record drops to 18-3-1. It was only a year ago that the South Londoner received plenty of respect for going the distance with WBO world champion Zhanibek Alimkhanuly and there is no doubt that his latest setback leaves him with a sizeable rebuilding job.

“He (Heaney) was throwing a lot of pitty-patty shots that I was catching on my gloves – nothing clean was getting through,” Bentley told our paper. “I landed some good shots. I felt comfortable in there and I felt I was sort of cruising it – clearly the judges saw it differently.

“I’m not trying to use the word robbery, I just feel like he didn’t do enough to rip the belt off the champion.

“My head wasn’t there for a while coming up to the fight. There were a lot of things going on but I still felt I should be able to go in there and get it done.

“It is nothing I want to talk about right now – I will at some point. I don’t want to make it feel like I’m making excuses straight away.I will let the dust settle first. It’s nothing crazy – it’s life.

“He (Martin Bowers’ Bentley’s trainer) was telling me they are going to nick the rounds off these little pitter-patter shots he was throwing.

“I know I didn’t perform to my best. Heaney has got a very awkward style.

“What I should’ve done is taken a step back, thought about what I’m doing and try to break him down – but my mind wasn’t there. I was thinking I’m was going to catch him at some point – but he took the shots very well.

“When I threw punches he went with me. There are a lot of things I could’ve done to take that away from him. I probably could’ve used my feet a bit more, I haven’t use my feet in a while (instead relying on his power). I kept thinking ‘let me try and get him out of there’.”

Bentley had been ranked ninth by the WBO and 12th by the WBC heading into the Heaney clash but defeat will see him slide further away from a

second world title tilt.

The 28-year-old says he is still contracted to Queensberry Promotions.

“I don’t know what is next,” said Bentley. “I’m just chilling.

“At the time I didn’t think he did anything to affect me but the general consensus is that Nathan Heaney won. I’ve seen fights where people perform better than they are supposed to and they didn’t do enough to win but people think they have won anyway, just because they weren’t expected to do what they have just done.

“I’ve got to take it, accept it and move on. But it is hard because although I’ve been here before (after a loss) it was not like this.

“I think the only way you can say I underestimated him is because of the situation when I went into the ring. I tried to stay as focused as possible and brush things to one side but it wasn’t enough.

“I didn’t look at all that stuff before about him being a big underdog because every time I watched him – to try and get a sense of style for what I should try and use – he looked better and better to me. He is a good listener and boxes to whatever game plan his coach put out there. That’s one of his strengths.

“A lot of the showboating he was doing was maybe making the judges think he was getting comfortable in there and scoring rounds but I thought I landed the heavier shots. I hurt him a couple of times but didn’t capitalise on it.

“I probably went to sleep a little bit in the middle rounds and wasn’t putting shots together. He was making me fall short at times.

“I had 12 rounds to do what I needed to do and I was kind of rushing my work.”


Richard Riakporhe is hoping that a shot at the WBO cruiserweight title is next in early 2024 after a second-round stoppage of Dylan Bregeon in Wolves.

The 33-year-old, from Walworth, is 17-0 (13 KOs) and should be made the mandatory challenger for the winner of the December 10 bout between WBO champion Chris Billam-Smith and Mateusz Masternak.

“Once I let those hands go – it’s over,” said Riakporhe. “I might do the modelling outside but in here (the ring) I’m a totally different animal. I sent a message to everybody – everybody is on notice.

“I just need two shots and that’s it, it’s over.

“I hope CBS does it. I like Masternak a lot, I’ve worked with him a few times. May the best man win. Whoever wins is getting knocked out by the Midnight Train, that’s all it’s going to be.

“It’s all big fights (in 2024). We’re knocking everybody out. I’m excited, man.”


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