Josh Kelly (10-1-1, 6 KOs), Harlem Eubank (13-0, 5 KOs) and the hotly anticipated British Middleweight Title clash between Linus Udofia (17-0, 9 KOs) and Denzel Bentley (15-1-1, 13 KOs) will top a stacked card in the capital as Wasserman Boxing launch their first free-to-air event live on Channel 5 on Friday May 13 at the Indigo at the O2, in association with William Hill, Numan and Infinitum Entertainment.
Sunderland’s ‘Pretty Boy’ Kelly will make his long-awaited ring return after a twelve-month absence as the former GB Olympian begins a new chapter in his career with Wasserman Boxing on Channel 5. Having suffered his sole career defeat last time out when challenging David Avanesyan for the European Welterweight Title in February 2021, the Adam Booth trained 28-year-old is itching to get back under the lights and back to the form that saw him heralded as one of British boxing’s most exciting prospects. With World Titles still in his sights, the former Commonwealth and WBA International Welterweight Champion is eager to put on a show and secure a statement win in London.
“I’m excited to get back into the ring and to start this new chapter in my career,” said Kelly. “This is where I belong, and I can’t wait to get back out there and put on a show. I took some time out to sort some personal issues out after my last fight but now I’m ready to get back to what I do best. The next bit of my career is going to be huge. I’m after World Titles. I’m not in the game for anything less. I know I will have to dig deep to get there but I’m ready to do whatever it takes to get a World Title whether that be at Welterweight or Super Welterweight.”
Luton’s ‘Lightning’ Udofia announced himself on the domestic scene with a points win over Tyler Denny to claim the English Middleweight Title in November 2019. The 28-year-old followed this up with a convincing stoppage win over John Harding Jr to defend the belt behind closed doors in Milton Keynes before blasting out Xhuljo Vrenozi in three-rounds at the OVO Arena Wembley. Udofia will now attempt to add the British Title to his collection as he faces his toughest career test against the former champion Bentley.
World ranked Bentley from Battersea returns to the ring following an emphatic third-round technical knockout win over Sam Evans as he looks to recapture the Lonsdale strap he won when stopping Mark Heffron inside four rounds in November 2020, before losing the belt in his first defence to Felix Cash.
“This is a massive fight for me. I’ve always wanted to box for the British Title and to get the opportunity to do it headlining a big show on Channel 5 is a dream come true,” said Udofia. “I want to thank my promoters the Sauerland brothers at Wasserman and my manager Steve Goodwin for getting me into this position. Now, it’s time to show everyone what I can do. I’ve seen a lot of Denzel Bentley. He’s a good operator, he’s very slick and I think our styles are going to gel really well. This is going to be a good fight for the public.”
“I’m excited for this opportunity to box for the British Title again,” said Bentley. “I know my opponent Linus Udofia is a good boxer and it’s going to be a real 50-50 fight. I’m expecting a full-blooded, fan-friendly affair. I can’t wait till fight night. I’m itching to prove that I am still one of the best fighters in the division.”
Rising star Harlem Eubank will take on former Commonwealth Champion and two-time British Title challenger Sean ‘Masher’ Dodd (17-6-1, 3 KOs) in an exciting ten-round Super Lightweight showdown.
Fresh from a fifth-round stoppage win against former IBF Intercontinental Champion Viorel Simion on the undercard of cousin Chris Eubank Jr’s blockbuster clash with Liam Williams, Eubank can continue his upward career trajectory with a victory over the experienced Birkenhead-boxer Dodd.
“I remember watching my cousin Chris on Channel 5 back in the day,” said Eubank. “It feels great to now have the chance to build my career on a big free-to-air platform. It’s going to be the first of many fights on Channel 5, working with the Sauerlands at Wasserman, and it’s a good fight to get started with.
“Sean Dodd is an experienced boxer. He’s been around the game for a long time. He’s tall and rangy and he likes to fight so I think it’s going to be interesting, but I’m going to be more than prepared for what’s in front of me.”
“This is the sort of opportunity I’ve been looking for,” said Dodd. “I felt I was unfairly done by in my last fight, but this is going to be a proper ten round fight and I’m going to make a big statement.”
In another thrilling domestic scrap, ‘The Newquay Bomb’ Brad Pauls (15-0, 9 KOs) will face Birmingham’s Ryan Kelly (16-3, 8 KOs) in an eliminator for the British Middleweight Title. The unbeaten Pauls will be fighting for the right to challenge for the Lonsdale belt training partner and friend Udofia is contesting on the same night but the Cornish fighter can expect stiff competition from the battle hardened Brummie Kelly, whose only losses have come against top domestic opposition.
“I’m glad I’ve finally got my chance on the big stage in a proper fight against someone ranked higher than me,” said Pauls. “There is everything to gain for me with a shot at the British Title on the line. Ryan Kelly is in the way of me getting my dream belt and I’m taking this fight very seriously. I’m happy to get this fight on such a big platform. This is an opportunity for me to put Cornwall on the boxing map.”
“I am really happy to be on such a big show in a live fight against an undefeated fighter in Brad Pauls,” said Kelly. “I have been working away for this fight since before Christmas and I’m over the moon to finally get the date. People are yet to see the best of Ryan Kelly but for this fight I get full preparation and I’m in the best place for it. It’s my time.”
“We’re delighted to kick start our partnership with Channel 5 with this fantastic free-to-air event,” said Wasserman’s Head of Global Boxing, Kalle Sauerland. “When we signed the deal with Channel 5, we said we wanted to revolutionise free-to-air boxing in the UK by bringing the biggest and best fights possible to the masses. The revolution starts now. We have three sensational domestic matchups, including a mouth-watering British Middleweight Title clash between Linus Udofia and Denzel Bentley, which promises to be a real 50-50 tear up; Harlem Eubank against fan favourite Sean Dodd; and ‘The Newquay Bomb’ Brad Pauls in British Title eliminator versus Ryan Kelly. Not to mention the return of one of British boxing’s most exciting fighters, Josh ‘Pretty Boy’ Kelly. This is an event you do not want to miss!”
“We’re excited to be working with Wasserman Boxing to bring this first-class fight night to our audience on Channel 5,” said Caj Sohal, Head of Sport at Channel 5. “Josh Kelly is back and ready to realise his star potential; Linus Udofia versus Denzel Bentley for the British Title promises to be a fight of the year contender; and having previously showcased Chris Eubank Jr on the channel, we look forward to welcoming Harlem Eubank to Channel 5 as he emerges as the latest boxing talent from this famous fighting family.”
“This is a big opportunity for Denzel Bentley to get his British title back,” said Francis Warren for Queensbury Promotions. “He’s a top, top talent, and he gets the chance to showcase what he’s all about on May 13 against a very good opponent in Linus Udofia in his hometown. Denzel is up for this big time. The chance to become a two time British champion is there for the taking, and I fully expect him to grab it with both hands.”
BENTLEY: YOU DON’T GET PAID FOR OVERTIME
It’s homecoming night for South London’s Denzel “2Sharp” Bentley (15-1-1, 13KOs) as he looks to reclaim the British Middleweight Title against Luton’s Linus Udofia (17-0, 9 KOs) live and free on Channel 5 on Friday May 13 from 10pm.
Bentley suffered his first career loss to Felix Cash in 2021, but immediately bounced back with a win later in the year to set up this exciting title bout at the Indigo at the O2 in London. You will rarely find someone with such a vicious knockout ratio carrying such a calm demeanour with them. It may be a relaxed Bentley outside of the ring, but inside it is a man who has either retired his opponent or stopped them in every victory since a points decision win back in April 2019. “I’m always calm and relaxed. I’m doing something I enjoy so there’s no need to be nervous or uptight or anything like that,” he said. “I know I’ve put in the work, so I’m calm.”
Linus “Lightning” Udofia had previously outlined the strengths of Bentley and the stopping power he possesses. There’s a mutual feeling that both fighters know the British middleweight title will not come easy, but it is the South London boy who is looking to strike twice and hold the belt once again. “He’s a good fighter so I’m not just going out there and expecting a knockout, but I will be looking for one. “Other than that, I’ll just go and enjoy my boxing until I smell blood; then I’ll take him out.” By winning the British Middleweight Title again, the momentum would help Bentley towards achieving his end goal – leaving no stone unturned in his quest for all the belts.
By looking to achieve the crowns that domestic, continental and global organisations have to offer, the aim remains to use these experiences and knowledge throughout his journey to reach the pinnacle. Without this huge test for the British title, there can be no true development according to Bentley. “Some people fight their whole career and never even get a shot at it, as others bypass it, but I think it is good experience. It helps you get the feel for a championship fight for when you want to push on to European and world level. Guys at this level domestically are potential European and World champions but you’re fighting for the British (title), it’s always going to be a good fight,” he said. “Two guys who are ready to win this one and move on to bigger things, so to speak. For example, (James) DeGale and (George) Groves both fought for the British title and they both went on to become world champions.”
It is true that some of those who have competed for the British title have gone on to the loftiest of heights, with Bentley’s limitless ambitions prepared to match those who have gone before him. The South London man’s aspirations come without naivety, to get to the next level, every fight has to be the most important of his career. Being able to perform in front of his own fans is a blessing, but getting the win is the sweetest prize of all. “It is good to be fighting in South London as a South London boy,” said Bentley. “This fight is just as important to me as all my other fights and it is definitely a must-win. The winner moves on, whereas the loser has to take a step back and do this again. It’s a win we both need.”
The hotly anticipated British Middleweight Title clash between Linus Udofia (17-0, 9 KOs) and Denzel Bentley (15-1-1, 13 KOs), the return of Josh Kelly (10-1-1, 6 KOs) against Xhuljo Vrenozi (18-4,3 KOs) and Harlem Eubank (13-0, 5 KOs) versus Sean Dodd (17-6-1, 3 KOs) will top a stacked card in the capital as Wasserman Boxing launch their first free-to-air event live on Channel 5 on Friday May 13 at the Indigo at the O2, in association with William Hill, Numan and Infinitum Entertainment.