Denzel Bentley made the first successful defence in his second reign as British middleweight champion with a fourth-round stoppage of Marcus Morrison at York Hall on Friday night.
Morrison made a positive start to the fight and arguably took the opening round, appearing to stagger the champion with a chopping right-hand as he looked to assert his authority early on. Bentley stepped up the pace in the second with both enjoying success, but the Battersea man looked to be settling into the contest by the time the third round arrived. Momentum was gathering in the home corner with Morrison appearing hurt at the end of the third with a big right-hand of his own, and Bentley began to turn the screw in the fourth. Morrison’s face was left bloodied and the fight was taking a turn for the worst for the Manchester man, with Bentley now landing almost at will. The head of Morrison was consistently being rocked back and, with two minutes on the clock in the fourth, Joe Gallagher stepped onto the ring apron to save his man from further damage.
Gallagher deserves immense credit, and his wealth of experience at the highest level will no doubt have played a role in the decision. Morrison, despite a good start, looked to be sinking fast and a heavy knockout looked inevitable. Credit to Bentley who despite suffering a resounding stoppage defeat to Felix Cash last year remains undeterred and looks to have taken a lot from the experience. BT Sport pundits Carl Frampton and Steve Bunce teased a tasty potential showdown against Hamzah Sheeraz down the line for the Battersea man who moves to 17-1-1 with fourteen knockouts.
The cruiserweight clash between Ellis Zorro and Dec Spelman was entertaining to say the least and provided a strong favourite for round of the year as the two emptied the tank down the stretch in one of the standout domestic contests of 2022. Zorro started the bout well, boxing well behind his jab before a left-hook to the body dropped Spelman to the canvas in the fourth. The writing looked to be on the wall for the Scunthorpe man but he rebounded and then some, staggering his man in the seventh round with Zorro looking almost out on his feet. It was then the Manchester man’s turn to show some heart and grit, with Zorro returning himself to leave a dent in the thirty-year-old Spelman.
Despite the final bell being just over three minutes away it looked almost inconceivable that both men would hear the final bell with the pair both hurt in the penultimate round. Zorro, who entered the night having had only fourteen pro contests, three of which were in the BOXXER Series tournament earlier this year, showed great measure to see out the final round following good advice from his corner, and was announced as 77-74 winner shortly after. Spelman more than played his part and earned his purse, while Zorro will take a lot from the encounter as his development continues.
Royston Barney-Smith ended his third professional outing inside thirty seconds with a resounding first-round stoppage of Paul Holt. The latter was staggered by a left-hook in the opening seconds before a sharp shot down the middle with the same hand left the former Midlands Area champion flat on his back. The contest was waved off immediately and Barney-Smith landed his first professional stoppage of his career.
Further down the card, Frank Arnold suffered a punishing fourth-round knockout defeat to Brayan Mairena. In reality Arnold perhaps should have been saved for another day, with the twenty-three-year-old looking overeager to earn a stoppage, standing in front of the Nicaraguan who continued to land damaging blows. The third saw Arnold initially down on the canvas and practically out on his feet with questions raised as to how both the referee and corner did not pull him out with a knockout seeming almost inevitable. His legs and eyes were wayward, and another onslaught came in the fourth which ended with Arnold staring up at the ceiling, with medical officials immediately on the scene administering oxygen. Thankfully after a few minutes the Hackney man rose to his feet and continued to receive medical attention on a stool, finally allowing Mairena to bask in his glory after a superb display in Bethnal Green.
Super-bantamweight prospect Adan Mohamed forced a fifth-round stoppage over Reiss Taylor in their scheduled six-round contest, and Khalid Ali dominated Dario Barosa over six rounds at welterweight. Masood Abdulah secured his sixth victory in as many outings with a fourth-round stoppage of ring veteran Stefan Nicolae, and Arnold Obadai comfortably out-pointed Pawel Strykowski over four rounds at cruiserweight. Joel Kudoa enjoyed a successful professional debut at middleweight with a whitewash decision over Joe Hardy in their four-round bout at 160lbs.