Former champion Liam Wilson was stripped of the Australian title following what were deemed inappropriate social media comments about the recent terrorist attacks in Christchurch.
Dencio’s elevation to an Australian title bout means there will be two national championships on the line at CFS 16, with Bianca Elmir (2-0) set to face Reanne Ware (debut) for the women’s featherweight crown.
His NSW straps currently sit on his wall above framed pictures of Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson – each item is a reminder of what could lie ahead.
Now, Dencio says it’s about time he added a different coloured belt to go alongside his blue NSW title after putting in countless rounds with Ferdi Bartulovic and world title challenger Luke Jackson.
“I got butterflies again, I haven’t had butterflies for a while. This is a good thing, I’m excited, it’s something different and it means things are happening,” Dencio said.
“Doesn’t everyone want to be an Australian champion? Whether it’s cricket, boxing or football, everyone wants to represent their country or have that title of Australian champion.
“That’s pretty cool, that would be awesome, something to tell the grand kids. It’s pretty good news I thought, I’m excited.”
As for Dencio’s plan to stop Priestley? Just focus on himself – that’s pretty much all he can do.
“There’s a few things on the internet on him. The papers say he is a southpaw and the videos show he is orthodox, so you can’t read too much into any of it,” Dencio said.
“I’ll just do what I’m good at and hopefully he’s not good at it as well. You have to keep fighting to get your name up there, so that’s what I’m doing. I’m on weight, don’t have any injuries, everything is looking good for once.”
An Australian championship win in Canberra would be a fitting accomplishment for Dencio, who has fought all of his eight professional fights on Nick Boutzos’ Capital Fight Show promotion.
“The ANBF decided the best path was for Liam to relinquish their prestigious and storied Australian title. The opportunity came about to upgrade the NSW title fight to an Australian title fight,” Boutzos said.
“It’s very exciting for me and it is very exciting for Ben, as he started with me and is constantly improving his fighting.”
Wilson took to social media to apologise for his comments regarding the attacks in New Zealand, which he says were taken out of context after the comment he was replying to was deleted.
“The devastation and mass murder that happened in that NZ mosque killing and injuring innocent civilians while they pray in church is nothing more than a coward attack on everyday people,” Wilson’s Facebook apology said.
“Having my own young family if you think I would support something like this you are sadly mistaken. And it’s good to see people jump the gun and try and throw me under a bus.”
CAPITAL FIGHT SHOW
Friday: Capital Fight Show 16 – Dencio v Priestley at Hellenic Club of Canberra, 7.30pm. Tickets from Ticketbooth or at the door.
CFS 16 card
NSW super featherweight championship – Ben Dencio (7-1) v Tc Priestley (2-3)
Australian featherweight championship – Bianca Elmir (2-0) v Reanne Ware (debut)
Cruiserweight – Aaron Russell (11-6) v Harjinder Singh (2-8)
Middleweight – Beau Hartas (4-1) v Franco Fraser (5-5-2)
Super welterweight – Jorge Kapeen (debut) v Dimitri Iliev (debut)
Heavyweight – Arsene Fokou Fosso (debut) v James Singh (3-1)
Super welterweight – Abe Archibald (1-0-1) v Ryan Cotten (2-0-2)
Super welterweight – Ferdi Bartulovic (1-1-1) v Simoni Mario (3-2)
Caden Helmers is a sports reporter for The Canberra Times