Tyler Denny claimed the vacant English middleweight title and gained revenge for one of the most controversial fights of 2021 as he battled his way to a ten-round split decision over River Wilson-Bent on Boxxer’s bill in Coventry.
The pair originally met at the same venue in November, when they shared a highly controversial technical draw. Wilson-Bent had started the fight better but was being battered when the fight was stopped in the eighth round because of a cut, which was ruled to have been caused by a clash of heads, even though it appeared to have been caused by a punch.
IT was another epic encounter, with the unbeaten Wilson-Bent trying to box at range, while Denny pushed forward throughout and kept Wilson-Bent under constant pressure.
Steve Gray scored it 96-94 to Wilson-Bent, but was overruled by Terry O’Connor and Kevin Parker, who had it to Denny by 97-93 and 96-93 respectively.
It was the fourth time that Denny had boxed for the title, having been stopped on a cut by Reece Cartwright in 2018 and dropped a majority decision to Linus Udofia in 2019 before the technical draw with Wilson-Bent.
After a good first round by Denny, River-Bent was getting the better of the second at range before Denny rocked him with a left.
It was Denny who took control in the third, as Wilson-Bent looked tentative, and Denny backed him into the ropes to land. Wilson-Bent again had some success but was nailed by a right hook just before the bell.
Wilson-Bent had a good fifth round, as he kept Denny at range, but he endured a tough sixth as Denny trapped him on the ropes and landed a series of heavy body punches, while Wilson-Bent finished the round cut as well.
Denny dominated the seventh too, while referee Ron Kearney took a point off Wilson-Bent for repeated holding. The eighth was scrappy, although Wilson-Bent continued to pick up warnings, this time for throwing Denny to the floor and using his shoulder, but Wilson-Bent finished the round well, landing straight shots as both looked exhausted.
Denny had the better of the ninth, but Wilson-Bent landed a good hook before getting caught by a big left.
Wilson-Bent put in a nig effort at the start of the final round, and both went for broke in the final 30 seconds as Wilson-Bent tried to turn things around.
“Respect to River, he is a lot tougher than I thought,” Denny said. “I was so confident I was going to get him out of there because I hurt him a lot in the first fight. The way he finished, hats off to him.
“This is my time now. I would love the British, Denzel Bentley has that. I’m not signed up with anyone, I am going to pester Ben Shalom. I need my time; I’ve done it the hard way. I want my break, I’m 31 next week and I’ve got four kids.”
Boxxer tournament winner Cori Gibbs was taken the full eight rounds by Spanish lightweight champion Carlos Perez.
It was an in-and-out display by Gibbs, who at times looked sharp, but at others was open to Perez’s counters. especially early on.
In general, though, Gibbs was in control and beat Perez to the punch, while he regularly switched, even if he never really went through the gears. Referee Chris Dean scored it 79-73.
Gibbs is now unbeaten in 17 but is 28 so needs to get some momentum behind his career.
“It wasn’t my best performance, he was tricky, but I was working him out round by round,” Gibbs said. “I’m going to be more active now and then back in for bigger things.”
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.