‘Ghanaian By Blood, British By Birth’: Denzel Bentley Represents Two Nations On April 24th
DENZEL BENTLEY will wear his Lonsdale belt AND his Ghanaian heritage with pride when he looks to defeat Middleweight challenger Felix Cash on April 24th.
Denzel has been hard at work at the Peacock Gym readying himself for the biggest fight of his life, but was delighted he had the time to take the trappings of his British title success on a whirlwind tour of his region of Ghana after his last scrap.
Bentley, 26, won the middleweight Lonsdale belt after a brutal stoppage of Mark Heffron and, with it being his third fight in under four months, he took himself off on holiday to the birthplace of his parents, where he still enjoys strong family connections.
The trip turned into something of a victory parade and the champ, along with his belt, was the cause of much celebration amongst the local population.
For the 14-0-1 man from Battersea, it was a source of great pride for his accomplishment to be received with such joy in his second home.
“It meant a lot and let me know how proud everyone was back home and how much they supported me and continue to support me,” said the fighter known as ‘2Sharp’.
“It has kind of got me feeling that I don’t want to let them down now by going back there empty handed or having taken a step back. It is a good sort of pressure that will make me keep my head down and keep grinding towards the success that I want.”
The London-born Bentley fully embraces his dual-nationality.
“I am Ghanaian by blood and British by birth. I am proud to be British, I was born and grew up here aside from going to Ghana for a couple of years when I was younger. This is home, but also where my parents are from is home too so when I go back I am a mix of the two together and I know I have got both of my people behind me.
“It is amazing really and I couldn’t ask for any more. You could say I have got the best of both worlds. Being back and forth is good because I am accepted in both countries.”
The pinnacle of Bentley’s most recent foray to Ghana was an audience with the King of the Ashanti Kingdom, Otumfuo Nana Osei Tutu II, which he does admit was a nerve-racking experience.
“Yes! Oh my days, I haven’t been so nervous before, more than even when I made my debut. I didn’t want to get anything wrong, there are a few protocols you need to observe and I haven’t been in that position before.
“I was presenting myself in front of royalty to be congratulated and I needed to get it right. I wanted it to be like the perfect day because it is something I will remember forever. As soon as they called out my name to come and meet him the nerves struck and everyone around me was telling me how to approach it.
“When I got there he was nice and relaxed, giving me blessings and congratulating me, saying how proud he and the people of the Ashanti are of me. It was good to hear those words because I’m just a kid that has come from, really and truly, nowhere.
“For him to take me in, congratulate me and show me love was special.”
If Bentley manages to add the Commonwealth title to his British when he takes on Felix Cash on April 24 in a highly-anticipated collision, he will emulate one achievement of a true Ghanaian hero, Azumah Nelson, who held the belt at featherweight in 1983.
“Yes, and I met him out there as well,” he reported. “It means a lot in Ghana because they are part of the Commonwealth and, although it is not the world title, they do appreciate and would be proud of me winning it.
“When I met Azumah he was telling me to go out there and be better than he was. I am sure he would be proud if I win it and it is a good title to go out and win.”
DENZEL BENTLEY READY FOR “DIRTY FIGHTER” FELIX CASH
DENZEL BENTLEY has accused big fight rival Felix Cash of being a “dirty fighter”.
He defends the British Middleweight championship against mandatory contender, Cash (13-0, 9 KOs) who will be risking his Commonwealth title on Saturday (April 24), live on BT Sport.
When Bentley (14-0-1, —12 KOs) sparred with Cash a few years ago things spilled over when Bentley got fed up with Cash’s roughhouse tactics.
He has admitted to pulling Cash into a headlock before being picked up by his rival. They ended up grappling on the floor before being pulled apart.
Bentley, 26, recalled: “We both did four rounds sparring then jumped back in with each other.
“We were going at it and he started hitting low and behind the head – all the little dirty tricks he likes to do. Then it got heated, he got upset and it turned into a little scrap but it’s in the past.
“He says I was clinging on for dear life – well we will see on Saturday.
“I do everything better than Felix. Is he gonna turn up with his dirty tricks? He is a dirty fighter. Everyone has seen it in his fights.
“He does it well and gets away with it a lot, but it’s not going to bother me. I reckon I am going to stop him even if he doesn’t have chinks in his armour.”
Cash, 28, hit back: “Am I a dirty fighter? I am what I am. I am a very good fighter and I am going to show Denzel. I will win the fight by stoppage.”
Bentley is making his first defence of the title he won by forcing Mark Heffron to retire in November and promoter Frank Warren has suggested his man is close to moving onto to the world stage.
The Hall of Fame promoter who won the purse bids to stage the showdown added: “There was talk that Tony Sims (Felix’s trainer) said he was considering not taking the fight and moving on, but hats off to them.
“From a fans point of view it doesn’t get any better than this. The one who has the skills and wants it the most will come through.
“I have an opinion about the fight and that is why we got behind Denzel in the purse bids. We believe in him.
“If Denzel comes through this as we expect him to then he will move on and into a position where he gets a world title fight.”
Also on the bill, former British Light-Heavyweight champion and world title challenger Callum Johnson (18-1, 13 KOs) challenges Bosnia’s Emil Markic (32-2, 24 KOs) for the vacant WBO Global title.
Some of the best prospects in the Queensberry stable are also on show including London Heavyweight banger David Adeleye (5-0, 5 KOs) who boxes a six rounder.
Over six rounds York Super-Welterweight George Davey (3-0) meets Jamie Stewart (2-1-1), and Super-Lightweight Henry Turner (4-0) keeps busy.
In four rounders are Liverpool Middleweight James Heneghan (4-0), Worcester Welterweight Owen Cooper (3-0) and Chatham Light-Heavyweight Karol Itauma (1-0) a Youth Olympic Gold Medallist.
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