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Denzel Bentley Dusts Off Nathan Heaney Loss, Says ‘Nothing Has Changed’

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Denzel Bentley was on the receiving end of one of the performances of the year when last November Nathan Heaney made a mockery of the pre-fight odds and produced an excellent, disciplined performance to outpoint him and take the Londoner’s British middleweight title. 

Bentley, 29, has been beaten before but has never been the type to ask for a “gimme” to ensure he instantly returns to the winner’s circle. Nothing has changed. The former world-title challenger wants to get right back on the horse and remind people exactly what he is capable of.

“You don’t need to call it a return, just a continuation,” he said.

“I want to come back at the same level. I can’t go above that because I fell short in that fight. I don’t wanna have any comeback fights or warm-up fights or that kind of stuff. I just wanna get straight back in there.

“I will have a proper fight or you might not see the return – or the continuation – of the story of Denzel Bentley,” he laughed at the weigh-in for his gym-mate Chris Bourke’s British bantamweight title fight with Ash Lane. 

Bentley will return on May 11 against Danny Dignum, and his preparation is likely to be much smoother than it was for the Heaney fight, when he had to contend with the premature arrival of his son and other issues.

“I’m enjoying life right now – I’m chilling, enjoying family time and in the gym training,” he said. “Whatever comes, I’m ready. There is something there but you’ve gotta wait for finalisations and announcements. It’ll be a good fight so I’m hoping everyone will enjoy it. It’s a fight that’s gonna get me up for it.”

Bentley watched last weekend’s British title fight between Heaney and the English champion Brad Pauls, but he didn’t spend his Saturday night looking for weaknesses in each or devising ways to beat them. He watched the 12-round thriller as a fan. Heaney retained his title after an exciting split draw but had to weather a late storm as the determined Pauls poured on the pressure in the second half of the fight.

Bentley is a two-time British middleweight champion, but he would love the chance to set the record straight against Heaney. Still, he isn’t going to obsess over the matter.

“It was a good fight,” Bentley said. “The second half of the fight was edge-of-your-seat stuff. It was entertaining. Brad done well to put the pressure on late. I think his corner told him he needed a stoppage and he dug deep and tried to get it. You have to give Heaney credit for staying on his feet. The gumshield came out a couple of times and he took some big shots but just wouldn’t go down. That’s a man with heart.

“I wasn’t thinking, ‘Let me at him’. That’s done. What’s in the past is in the past. If I can get a rematch, I’d be more than happy. But if I don’t, I’ve gotta continue my career. I can’t be down forever because of one slip-up or mistake in the past.”

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