BERMONDSEY’S Ted Cheeseman puts his British super-welterweight championship on the line against Kieron Conway in a decent-looking trade fight at York Hall in Bethnal Green on Friday night (June 21). Sky Sports Action (UK) and DAZN (US) televise.
For Cheeseman, 15-1 (9), it’s his first outing since he was well beaten on points by Spaniard Sergio Garcia when challenging for the European title at the O2 Arena in February.
That was a fight that appears to have come too early for 23-year-old Cheeseman and while promoter Eddie Hearn regarded it as a learning experience, it was also the kind of hard grind that may well have put a few miles on the Londoner’s clock.
Those 36 minutes did prove Cheeseman will fight his heart out until the final bell of a hard 12-rounder even when it seems he has no chance of winning – Conway has yet to face such an examination.
Also 23, Conway is still to build his resolve over the championship course, having not yet gone past eight rounds. He has fought once since his narrow semi-final defeat to Derrick Osaze in the last four of the Ultimate Boxxer tournament last month, bullying late sub Harry Matthews over four rounds, and has taken the chance to fight Cheeseman at around three weeks’ notice.
Conway is a polished boxer – he had 84 amateur bouts – with a good lead hand who uses his feet as his defence. His check left hook is a good punch. The feeling in the Conway camp – Kieron is trained by his father, James, in Northampton – is that Cheeseman has built his heart-breaking reputation by dominating natural welterweights moving up, such as Lloyd Ellett, Carson Jones and Asinia Byfield, and that tomorrow night’s challenger is a middleweight coming down.
The lightest Conway has weighed so far in his pro career is 156lbs. He believes he can stand his ground and break up Cheeseman’s attacks, and eventually his heart, with his lead hand.
Cheeseman isn’t as stiff-backed as he was when he first turned over, but still, he’s hittable and though Conway’s record doesn’t suggest he’s a puncher – only three early wins in his 12-1 career – there’s spite in his punches. He shook the usually rock-solid Matthews in the last round with a fast, whipping left hook. One thing is for certain, Conway won’t fancy fighting 12 rounds at Cheeseman’s pace. Conway knows he can’t let Cheeseman get on top of him the way he got on top of Byfield when winning the vacant British title in October.
Byfield was known as a hard-to-pin down mover, but Cheeseman was able to stay on him, drop him and beat him on points. Cheeseman isn’t known as a massive puncher, but everything he lands takes something out of his opponent, slows them down. At this level, he may well prove hard to beat.
Conway said upon turning pro that his target was to become the first boxer from Northampton to win British honours. The others from the East Midlands town who have fallen short are Norman Snow (beaten by welterweight champion Ernie Roderick in 1940), Tony Poole (Maurice Hope, super-welterweight, 1976), Alan Bosworth (Junior Witter, super-lightweight, 2002), Allan Foster (Tony Dodson, super-middleweight, 2003) and only five weeks ago, Ash Lane (Brad Foster, super-bantamweight).
Conway is up against it as well. Cheeseman is the proven fighter here. He’s beaten better opponents over the championship distance and while, given his size and amateur experience, you can make a case for Conway outboxing him, you can make a stronger one for the more seasoned Cheeseman winning either by late stoppage or on points.
On the undercard, rising Ilford welterweight Conor Benn, 14-0 (9), faces Finland’s ex-European title challenger Jussi Koivula, 24-6-1 (9), in a 10-rounder.
Over the same distance, Crystal Palace’s Craig Richards, 14-1 (8), who has previously fought for the British belt, takes on the 10-0 (4) Andre Sterling (New Cross) in a clash of in-form South London light-heavies.
The Verdict Conway will be out to test Cheeseman’s confidence.