Boxing: Bentt in hospital after Hide

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The Independent Online
HERBIE HIDE became Britain's latest World Boxing Organisation champion here in London last night when he knocked out the heavyweight holder from America, Michael Bentt, after two minutes and 50 seconds of the seventh round in a fast-paced and sometimes wild encounter.

Late last night Bentt was taken to hospital after losing consciousness in his dressing room. He complained of dizziness after leaving the ring. A hospital spokeswoman said his condition was 'satisfactory.'

Hide, with no world-class experience behind him, earlier seized his chance by virtue of one punch in the third round which scattered Bentt's senses and ruined all the ambitious plans he had talked about before the fight. Up until the third Hide had seemed apprehensive and outgunned, but it was only a matter of time before Bentt would be reached by the wrecking punches that ended it.

These came in the seventh, when Bentt, still groggy, tried to find a way inside the defences of his nimble challenger, but instead found himself on the end of a perfectly delivered right hand that sent him down. He lay there for most of the count, a shocked and dishevelled figure, perhaps wishing that he had taken the unfancied Hide more seriously than his slightly flabby condition suggested.

He stumbled to his feet, but it was just too late. .

Although billed as a 'world championship', the contest was more an eliminator for both bigger titles and money. Although only a relatively sparse crowd contributed to the coffers of the promoter, Barry Hearn, unimaginable riches could await the winner.

So much had ridden on the back of the 23-year-old Hide's red-and-white tasselled robe as he entered the ring only to be confronted by Bentt's trainer, Eddie Mustapha Muhammed, who repeatedly shouted, 'Show time]'. Bentt pointed a clenched glove in the direction of Hide and smiled.

At the first bell, it was Bentt who came forward, stalking. Hide skittered backwards as his pursuer loaded up with big punches. Hide was trying to get his jab going but it was clear that Bentt did not believe the Briton could hurt him.

Hide's corner counselled urgency and the challenger attempted looping pot-shots at Bentt before retreating behind his high guard. Bentt came near to nailing him with a left hook that sent spray flying from Hide's gloves, and although Hide smiled and shook his head at Bentt's corner, he was obviously apprehensive after feeling the stocky champion's power.

Then came an incredible third round when Bentt laconically walked on to a right uppercut from Hide and found himself dumped in a heap on the canvas. He got up unsteadily at the count of nine and backed away to a neutral corner, where Hide hurled furious combinations at him. It seemed that the American had to go down again, but he clutched at the top rope with his right glove and sneeringly waved the Norwich boxer on.

All the prophecies about Bentt's susceptible chin appeared to be coming true. He barely survived till the bell and and at the start of the fourth, Hide came racing out to try to finish it. As the bleary-eyed Bennt was reduced to holding and edging along the ropes trying to lure Hide on to a sucker punch. It was with this tactic that Bentt, 30, won the title from Tommy 'The Duke' Morrison last autumn.

The chance of it working again seemed remote, however, as Hide continued to hurt his man in the fifth with fast, straight punches. But although Bentt looked confused and ready to be taken, Hide did not press his advantage, perhaps worried about pacing his first significant-distance fight.

Hide continued his more thoughtful boxing in the sixth, urged on by shouts of 'duff him up' by the Romford corner. In his frustration, Bentt tried to bury his head in Hide's shoulder and wear him down, but Hide recoiled from a clinch claiming that Bentt had interpreted this tactic too literally and had bitten him. The referee, Paul Thomas, administered a stern lecture. It was a sign that Bentt knew that his fists did not have the beating of Hide.