Denzel Bentley challenges WBO middleweight championJanibekAlimkhanuly on Saturday, with all the action coming from Las Vegas. The British champion will face the unbeaten Kazakh southpaw months after successfully defending Lord Lonsdale’s belt against Marcus Morrison.
Now, he has a golden opportunity to join one of boxing’s most exclusive clubs, but he must overcome one of the sport’s most feared champions to bring a world title back to Britain.
Bentley, who is 27 years old, has won three straight bouts since being unceremoniously stopped by Felix Cash in April 2021. He bounced back impressively from his first defeat and put in an emphatic performance against Morrison to win in four rounds last time out.
The Battersea boxer won the British middleweight crown for the first time after a fourth-round defeat of Mark Heffron in the second fight between the pair in September 2020.
He lost the title against Cash in his next fight but bounced back with a TKO win over Sam Evans and regained the belt with a split decision victory over Linus Udofia before stopping Morrison in style in September. His maiden world title shot has come out of the blue, but he is ready to grasp the opportunity in his first professional contest outside of London.
“It will be a good and exciting fight, and I think it is a fight I can win,” Bentley said. “So why not go out there and enjoy the theatrics of Las Vegas and come back with a world title? I genuinely believe I can beat him, and he is beatable. Everybody says he is scary, but I don’t see it. Maybe I am missing something. We will find out when we get in the ring.”
On the other side, Alimkhanuly makes the first defense of his title against Bentley after a rapid rise up the middleweight division. The 29-year-old Kazakh was upgraded to world champion after the previous incumbent Demetrius Andrade vacated the title in August.
Alimkhanuly will be determined to make a statement in his first bout as middleweight champion as he looks to build his profile before seeking out lucrative unification bouts.
He has quickly established himself as one of the hardest punchers in the division, winning five of his last six bouts by knockout, including statement victories over former world champions Rob Brant and Hassan N’Dam.
He brutally knocked out another Brit, Danny Dignum, in his last contest with a right uppercut in the second round and hasn’t gone the distance since April 2019.
“I have to give Denzel Bentley credit for accepting the challenge when so many fighters ran the other way,” Alimkhanuly said. “It is a great honor to defend my world title in Las Vegas at The Palms, and I will once again show the world what ‘Qazaq Style’ is about.”
As an amateur he won gold medals at the 2013 World Championships, 2013 Asian Championships and 2014 Asian Games and reached the quarterfinals at the 2016 Olympics.
He has also experienced fighting on the biggest stage as a professional. He faced Brant as the co-featured bout to Vasyl Lomachenko vs Masayoshi Nakatani and appeared on the undercard of the hugely anticipated bout between Terence Crawford and Shawn Porter.