Denzel Bentley became a two-time British middleweight champion as he won a split decision over Linus Udofia at the Indigo in the O2, London.
It was a come-from-behind display by Bentley, who was outboxed early on but walked Udofia down in the second half of the fight.
But Udofia might regret his performance in the final round, which he virtually gave away by backing off and refusing to engage.
Marcus McDonnell had it 116-112 for Bentley, Terry O’Connor went 115-114 for Udofia, with Mark Bates scoring it 115-113. Presuming Bates gave the final round to Bentley, had Udofia won that session, it would have been a draw.
Bentley, from Battersea, south London, had won the title in 2020, before losing it to Felix Cash 13 months ago. Cash had given the belt up, allowing Bentley to face the unbeaten Udofia for the vacant title.
“It means a lot to get this belt back,” Bentley said. “I didn’t like the way I lost it, but that was a fight, I enjoyed that.
“I was surprised it was a split decision. In the second half of the fight, four out of the six rounds I had him going.
“I’m a gym rat. I want to get back in the gym and push on for world honours.”
Udofia began well, keeping Bentley on the outside and picking his shots well. Bentley fired back in the third round, as the two began to engage, but after being caught, Udofia finished the exchanges better, forcing Bentley to cover up.
The fourth was more comfortable for Udofia, but Bentley did better for most of the fifth, although he was caught late on by two sharp rights.
Things started to swing firmly in Bentley’s favour in round seven, as Bentley forced Udofia back into the ropes and landed well with the right, while, in the eighth round, Bentley was able to outstrength Udofia, who was struggling to lead off.
With seconds left in the round, Bentley opened up, catching Udofia to body and head, forcing Udofia’s knee to touch down, although it was missed by referee Mark Lyson.
Bentley continued to hold the upper hand as he continued to pressure Udofia, who was forced to fight his way off the ropes, although Udofia showed some nice angles to catch Bentley on the way in.
In the last round, Udofia backed off as Bentley chased him down. For the last minute, Bentley kept Udofia under constant pressure as Udofia tried to slide away.
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Ron Lewis is a senior writer for BoxingScene. He was Boxing Correspondent for The Times, where he worked from 2001-2019 - covering four Olympic Games and numerous world title fights across the globe. He has written about boxing for a wide variety of publications worldwide since the 1980s.
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