Featured image: Queensberry Promotions via X.

Stoke’s Nathan Heaney realised his dream of becoming British middleweight champion with a career-best performance against Denzel Bentley on Saturday evening.

Heaney won a majority-decision after an emphatic twelve-round performance at Manchester’s AO Arena to move to 18-0 and capture the Lord Lonsdale belt at 160lbs.

The 34-year-old headed into the night a heavy underdog but defied the odds in front of 2000 adoring Stoke fans.

It’s absolutely phenomenal. People always say, ‘I always dreamt of being a world champion, I always dreamt about being a British champion’. I’ve gotta be honest, I never thought I could,” he told TNT Sports post-fight.

“I always envisioned fighting Bentley at the football ground [of] Stoke City, but I knew if I was ever to get there I’d need to beat someone like Denzel Bentley beforehand to prove that I deserve to be there.

“I’m a British champion, and Frank [Warren, promoter] said the winner would fight for the world title, so I’ve gotta take him at his word. Let’s just get there.”

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Above: An emotional Heaney breaks down after he was announced as the new British champion. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

Bentley off the boil while Heaney shines

The champion Bentley looked out of character from the off, displaying an eagerness to dispatch of Heaney in a similar fashion to which he stopped Kieran Smith inside 45 seconds of the opening round last time out.

Heaney was energised like never before however, buoyed by his army of Stoke fans in the crowd, and set a pace Bentley struggled to match in the opening rounds.

Almost every shot thrown by the Battersea man was met with an immediate response from Heaney who headed into the second half of the fight with a healthy lead.

Bentley’s jab was non-existent as he continued to head-hunt in search of a stoppage but mostly fell short of the target as Heaney’s work rate continued to bank him rounds.

Concerns that Bentley would need knockdowns to salvage his title grew heading into the championship rounds, and while he finally found his jab in the eleventh, Heaney rallied to land his biggest career victory to date.

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Above: Heaney’s energy couldn’t be matched by Bentley in Manchester. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

Ball seals world title shot with Dogboe victory

Liverpool featherweight Nick Ball cemented his status as mandatory challenger for Rey Vargas‘ WBC title with an impressive unanimous decision victory over Isaac Dogboe (119-108 twice & 116-111).

A third-round knockdown along with a rapid pace set by the Liverpudlian sealed his 19th victory in as many outings to seal a shot at world honours in 2024.

Telford super-bantamweight Liam Davies picked himself off the canvas to defend his European title against Italy’s Vincenzo La Femina via a fifth-round stoppage.

Davies floored the former belt holder in the third only for the Italian to return the favour later in the round.

The Briton regrouped however to land a second knockdown in the fourth before forcing his seventh stoppage win a round later.

Derby’s Harry Scarff also earned an upset victory over Nottingham’s Ekow Essuman to claim the British and Commonwealth welterweight titles.

The pair fought over ten frenetic rounds before the former was announced as winner via unanimous decision (113-116, 113-115 & 112-117).

Miller puts in brave performance against Collins; Dacres defends against Webster

Manchester super-featherweight Zak Miller earned plaudits in his majority-decision defeat to British and Commonwealth champion Nathaniel Collins.

The former had not gone past eight rounds heading into the bout but gave a good account of himself against the Scot whose experience and added class edged the decision in his favour.

Ema Kozin also outpointed Hannah Rankin by split-decision to claim the vacant WBO and WBC super-welterweight titles, while Solomon Dacres defended his English heavyweight title versus Michael Webster by majority-decision.

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