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Matt Maher: Tyler Denny is forced into yet another title ‘eliminator’

A prime example of why boxing can be such a frustrating sport in which to participate – let alone follow – arrived this week with news Tyler Denny has again been ordered to defend his English middleweight title.

English champion Tyler Denny
English champion Tyler Denny

The prospective bout with Kieron Conway would be the Rowley Regis boxer’s third defence of the belt, an unusually high number even before you consider the 31-year-old is on one of the best runs of any British fighter, his last four wins coming against previously unbeaten opponents.

In the eyes of pretty much every observer, he has more than earned a shot at the British title, currently held by Denzel Bentley, who will defend it next month against Kieran Smith. Denny, who last month beat Brad Pauls, might reasonably have expected to face the winner.

Yet the British Boxing Board of Control, remarkably, still feel he has something to prove. The fight with Conway would be an eliminator for the British belt – but so was the bout with Pauls.

“How many eliminators do you need?” Denny pondered this week on the Josh Hart boxing podcast. It’s a more than fair question.

Denny, who worked as a plumber for Sandwell council before turning full-time to boxing two years ago, would be the first to admit taking the tough road has served him well. He’s relished being the underdog in bouts against River Wilson-Bent and Brad Rea. It’s helped take his performances to a new level. Facing Conway, who has fought most of his career at super welterweight, would not faze him.

By the same token, he is more than entitled to feel he has served his apprenticeship at English title level. Should he relinquish the belt, as early indications suggest he might, there could be no complaints.

Boxing has long suffered for its opaque structure, in which the advantage lies with boxers backed by bigger promoters, who can select (and dodge) opponents as they choose.

Denny has already done an impressive job of upending the system and overcoming the odds. At the very least, he deserves a chance to step up further and show what he can do at a higher level.

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