Three days after news broke that Nick Ball would face Isaac Dogboe in a November 18th WBC final eliminator, Queensberry has revealed the full lineup of “seven major title fights” set to hit AO Arena in Manchester.
Disclaimer: I’m not clear on the bout order. The press release claims Ball vs Dogboe is the “co-feature,” but it’s at the top of the poster and gets the first set of quotes in said press release.
“It is a good fight, and he has got a similar style to me in that he is small and comes forward,” [Ball] considered. “It is only going to make for an action-packed fight in my eyes. He has been a world champion and has been in with a few world champions so, on paper, he has got more experience. Although, if I can’t beat him, I won’t be no world champion.
“I definitely make myself favourite and always back myself. All my fights have been in London recently so, with this one being in Manchester and only 40 minutes away, my people will all get down and support me. There will be a big interest, and everyone will be taking notice of this one. I am one step away from a world title fight now and within touching distance.”
“I know coming off a world title loss, to many, it would’ve sunk them into the abyss,” said the now US-based star who hails from Accra. “But I am still on my feet and God is guiding me day after day. Fighting in a WBC world title eliminator against an opponent like Nick Ball is a wonderful opportunity. He’s a great fighter with a lot of buzz behind him in the UK. This fight is about redemption. I haven’t fought on English soil since I turned pro. My passion for boxing started there, and I can’t wait to return home.”
Denzel Bentley (18-2-1, 15 KO) makes the third defense of his British middleweight title against Nathan Heaney (17-0, 6 KO), having stopped Marcus Morrison and Kieran Smith on either side of his unsuccessful shot at Janibek Alimkhanuly. Heaney is coming off of back-to-back wins over Jack Flatley; not exactly a sterling body of work, but he’s 34 and has to pull the trigger at some point.
“It will be interesting to go to Manchester and I have never boxed there before,” [Bentley] said. “He was doing the public workout stuff before my last fight, and we came together and he said ‘let’s do it’ and since then it has been brewing. I am up for it, and he has got a nice little title that I can take off him as well.
“It will be nice; the arena should be packed out and it will be special. We are two names in Britain, and it is a big fight domestically. He has got a big following in Stoke and I have sort of become a fan-favourite fighter over the last year or so.
“I can see him bringing 5,000 fans to the arena, which will bring a different dynamic. It will be good though, to see how loud they can boo me! I live from nights like this, and I am very excited to see how the night plays out and how I deal with all the fans.”
“It is an absolutely phenomenal fight,” said the 34-year-old pride of the Potteries. “The British title is something every fighter dreams of fighting for and people have probably had easier fights for the belt, but this is the task in front of me. Denzel Bentley has proved himself to be above British level, so it is a very high-level fight that I will do everything I can to win.
“This is the time for me and, by putting a great performance in and becoming British champion, it sets up everything for the future. I am performing well, feeling great and it is the right time.
“I will go into this as a big underdog and my people will back me to make sure I do well. With all this YouTube stuff going on, this is a proper professional fight that I think people are really going to love. There will be people who doubt me, people who believe in me, so we will have to see what happens on the night.”
The evening’s lone world title fight pits Hannah Rankin (13-6, 3 KO) against Ema Kozin (23-1-1, 2 KO) for the WBC super welterweight title formerly held by Natasha Jonas. Rankin gave Terri Harper a hell of a scrap last year and Kozin’s only loss came to Claressa Shields.
“I am absolutely over the moon to have the chance to fight for the WBC world title,” said [Rankin]. “It is one of the most prestigious belts, one fighter’s want to get in their career and it is amazing for me.
“Most of all I remember Ema from fighting Claressa Shields over here in Cardiff. She is a southpaw, an aggressive style fighter who I am looking forward to sharing a ring with and I think we will put on a great show.
“There were plans for us to fight much earlier on in our careers, but Covid got in the way and now it is finally coming to fruition. It will be an exciting fight for the fans, and I am looking forward to putting on a show for everybody. This is a special night for me, and I really can’t wait to showcase everything I have been working on in the gym.
“I came into this sport to see how far I could go after coming into it late in my early 20s. This is me going for a third world title to take back to Scotland and I really couldn’t be prouder.”
IBO* featherweight champ Anthony Cacace (21-1, 7 KO) fights Ryan Garner (14-0, 8 KO), European super bantamweight champ Liam Davies (14-0, 6 KO) defends against mandatory challenger Vincenzo La Femina (13-0, 7 KO), and British/Commonwealth Nathaniel Collins (13-0, 7 KO) faces a truly awe-inspiring can crusher in Zak Miller.
Also on tap is Ekow Essuman (19-0, 7 KO) against Harry Scarff (12-2, 3 KO), though it’s only 99.99% set. Queensberry won the purse bid for an Essuman vs. Cody Crowley eliminator and says that Crowley has until this evening (9/29/2023) to sign or they’ll go forward with the Scarff fight. Considering Crowley would make a grand total of $31,500 and Frank Warren doesn’t appear to have done anything to sweeten the deal, I’m not surprised they went ahead and announced a domestic fight instead.
*Just for you, John.