Ball beats Dogboe in WBC eliminator, Heaney upsets Bentley for British title

Fighting

Nick Ball is now in line for a WBC featherweight title shot after beating Isaac Dogboe by unanimous decision today in Manchester.

Ball (19-0, 11 KO) took a clear win on scores of 116-111, 118-109, and 119-108. Bad Left Hook unofficially scored the fight 117-110 for Ball.

The fight was a WBC final eliminator for the belt currently held by Rey Vargas, who hasn’t defended since beating Mark Magsayo for the belt in July 2022, though he did have a fight — and loss — at 130 lbs earlier this year against O’Shaquie Foster.

Ball was sort of facing a mirror image of himself in some ways, with Dogboe (24-4, 15 KO) also a short, compact, physically strong fighter. But Ball was just better at that game, and referee Victor Loughlin was, to put it in a positive way, letting the lads fight, which meant Ball was able to use that physicality and blatantly shove Dogboe around.

The boxing, though, was also mainly controlled by Ball. Dogboe looked dangerous throughout and was competitive in most rounds, but Ball was the better man, and earned the win and his recognition as a top 10 sort of fighter at 126.

“I’m feeling good, it was a good performance from myself. I had to keep my cool in there and control the fight,” Ball said. “I feel like I’ve just controlled that fight at world level. I’ve just put myself in position (to fight for a world title).”

Promoter Frank Warren said that if Ball doesn’t get his shot at the WBC belt next, it will be the fight after that, and that “we’ll make sure it’s over here” in the United Kingdom.

Nathan Heaney MD-12 Denzel Bentley

A sizable upset here, because Heaney, being real, was never “supposed to be” a guy who would win a fight at even the British title level. He was a ticket-seller, well-liked, good local fan base in Stoke that traveled with him, and those fans saw him achieve a dreamer’s dream, beating Bentley deservingly for the British middleweight title.

Heaney (18-0, 6 KO) won on scores of 114-114, 116-113, and 117-111. Bad Left Hook had it 115-113 for Heaney, who built an impressive first half lead on our card and held on through exhaustion late in the night.

For Bentley (18-3-1, 15 KO), this is a crushing defeat. He seemed confident that he’d get a knockout, and that just never came. He’ll likely look back on this and see some glaring tactical mistakes from his side, even if he does feel he did enough to win, which was not the general opinion out there.

“He had an opportunity and he took it, but I don’t know. Judges saw it how they saw it,” Bentley said. “I don’t think he really landed anything compared to what I landed on him. A lot of the shots he threw I was catching on the gloves, but that’s how the judges scored it.”

“It’s absolutely phenomenal. People always say, ‘I dreamt of being a world champion, I always dreamt of being a British champion.’ I’ve got to be honest: I never thought I could,” Heaney said.

Heaney said he wants to have a British title fight in Stoke, and knew he had to do something like this to earn that, and that he now hopes to bring a world title fight to Stoke City’s home ground.

Undercard results

  • Liam Davies TKO-5 Vincenzo La Femina (2:50): Davies set out to get a stoppage, and he got it. He also wound up on the canvas once, a flash knockdown where he was caught off-balance and throwing, but it speaks to the risky style he ran with here. Davies (15-0, 7 KO) retains the European 122 lb belt and is on the hunt for a world title shot, with Frank Warren saying he thinks Davies is “a couple more fights” from going for it. La Femina (13-1, 7 KO) was over-matched but very game, came there to fight and to win, just didn’t happen. La Femina was dropped in the third (before dropping Davies in the same round), then in the fourth again, and then it was stopped with Davies battering the Italian late in the fifth.
  • Solomon Dacres MD-10 Michael Webster (95-95, 96-94, 96-93): Yet again, not an impressive performance from Dacres (8-0, 2 KO), who had a short notice, small hall opponent and still never really dominated the fight or anything. The low ceiling on the 30-year-old heavyweight seems very clear if you aren’t the person promoting him and saying otherwise. Webster, who acquitted himself pretty nicely all things considered, is now 9-1 (6 KO).
  • Harry Scarff UD-12 Ekow Essuman (115-113, 116-113, 117-112): Essuman’s run as the British and Commonwealth welterweight champion comes to an end here, and this is a huge win for Scarff (13-2, 3 KO), and without meaning to be damning with faint praise — although it will come off that way — this is basically the peak of what he could have realistically hoped for in his boxing career, and it’s a sincere achievement. He scrapped his way past a long-running champ, and has found something at domestic level as a welterweight. Essuman falls to 19-1 (7 KO), and any minor hope of getting to world level in his mid-30s pretty much goes with the “0.”
  • Ema Kozin SD-10 Hannah Rankin (94-96, 96-94, 98-92): Decent fight to pass time, basically. Kozin (24-1-1, 12 KO) now has the WBC and WBO belts at 154, which were vacant coming in. It’s a division with absolutely no depth, which is how Rankin (13-7, 3 KO) got yet another crack at gold. Or pewter or whatever they actually put on these belts they pay $200 to have made.
  • Nathaniel Collins MD-12 Zak Miller: Scores were 114-114 even, then two 115-113 cards for Collins (14-0, 7 KO), who was a huge betting favorite and had to scrap to retain his British and Commonwealth belts at 126. Miller falls to 13-1 (3 KO) in defeat. This didn’t actually air on the ESPN+ broadcast, but apparently was quite a good fight.

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