EDDIE HEARN returns to promoting this Saturday (August 1) with a show in the back garden of his family’s Brentwood mansion – aka the Matchroom Fight Camp. It’s hard to envisage the top-of-the-bill bout disappointing viewers on Sky Sports Action (UK) and DAZN (US). Sam Eggington and Ted Cheeseman are super-welterweights who are known as front-foot fighters and their 12-round clash has excited the trade and divided opinion. Either Cheeseman is too big and the better boxer or Eggington has the edge because of his seasoning and momentum.
Cheeseman is without a win in his last three – including losses to European champion Sergio Garcia and Scott Fitzgerald – while Eggington has won his last four and goes into the fight ranked No. 5 by the IBF after his two-round KO of Orlando Fiordigiglio in Italy in September last year. The Stourbridge crowd-pleaser seized immediate control with his jab and when he put his right hand behind it in the second, Fiordigiglio came apart.
Manager Jon Pegg points out that though Eggington is experienced, he’s still only 26 years old. “He isn’t in his thirties and looking for a payday or two,” he said. Pegg goes as far as to say Eggington’s best days are in front of him and that he’s improving. Against Fiordigiglio, he showed he can cut the ring off and slip punches. In the past, Eggington was known to follow opponents around the ring and take shots to land them. Bradley Skeete outboxed him and he was stopped by Hassan Mwakinyo in an upset.
Cheeseman has had his setbacks as well since turning over in 2015 after a successful amateur career. He got past Asinia Byfield to win the vacant British title in October 2018, but found Kieron Conway a handful in his first defence – Cheeseman was held to a split draw. There was also the resounding points defeat to Garcia – the sort of fight that puts miles on a fighter’s clock – and the unanimous loss of his British crown to Fitzgerald.
Cheeseman, 15-2-1 (9), has had troubles outside the ring, too. He admitted to a gambling addiction ahead of the Fitzgerald bout and mentally, he may not be in the best of places. The results against Conway and Fitzgerald have led to him talking of conspiracies. The 24-year-old from Bermondsey said boxing was “corrupt” after the Fitzgerald fight. What must have really hurt Cheeseman was that he made changes, abandoning his hunt-them-down-and-beat-them-up style to box, and it still wasn’t enough for the judges.
Thinking the boxing world has turned against him could well harden Cheeseman, but if he is feeling sorry for himself, he won’t enjoy having Eggington in front of him for 12 rounds. If there are cracks in Cheeseman’s mental make-up, Eggington will find them. The Midlander has taken the losses in his 28-6 (17) career well. Because he started out on the right-hand side of the bill on small hall shows and has always shown a willingness to roll the dice, Eggington has accepted there would be losses and that he would just have to learn from them and come back.
Eggington comes across as a happy overachiever. He turned over at 18 looking to be a journeyman and by the age of 23, he had won British, Commonwealth and European titles at welterweight. For Pegg, his fighter’s achievements are either overlooked or put down to the backing of Barry Hearn. The record shows wins over Denton Vassell, Frankie Gavin and Paulie Malignaggi, and when Eggington has lost, he’s come back stronger.
That is the challenge now facing Cheeseman, who takes confidence from his size. He has been fighting up at 154lbs from the start of his pro career, while Eggington outgrew 147lbs. Cheeseman saw how former WBO super-welter titlist Liam Smith stopped Eggington in five last March and fancies he will do the same. The words Cheeseman has used ahead of the fight are “dominate” and “bully”. He also says Eggington “doesn’t have a Plan B – and I have.” Cheeseman has shown he can box, but against Fitzgerald, he faded down the stretch.
There’s pressure on both. Eggington says the fight is “all or nothing” and adds he’s comfortable in such situations, but the reality is, if it’s a fan-friendly scrap and the loser loses well, there are more good fights out there for them in this country. Eggington, though, is looking beyond Britain. “I’ve only got one more belt to win [a world title] and if I win that, I’m retiring,” he said.
The arrival of daughter Laila, a younger sister for Layton (eight) and Kai (six), earlier this year has made Eggington think about the future. Perhaps he’s lost focus? There’s a chance an angry Cheeseman will want it more than him, but though Eggington is thinking of spending more time with his family, he still has to provide for them – and fighting is what he does best. Eggington described himself as “greedy” – and he hasn’t got enough from boxing yet. This is a fascinating contest that could go either way and the pick is Eggington – but only just.
On the undercard, Gavin Gwynne, 12-1 (2), gets another shot at the British lightweight championship. The man from Treharris in Wales was previously outpointed by Joe Cordina for the British and Commonwealth titles and this weekend, he faces Belfast banger James Tennyson, 26-3 (22), for the vacant belt. Tennyson has scored four straight stoppages since he was beaten in five by Tevin Farmer in an IBF title tilt in October 2018. All three of Tennyson’s losses have come early, but Gwynne isn’t known as a big hitter, so the pick has to be for the Northern Irishman to triumph inside the distance.
Chatteris’ Jordan Gill, 24-1 (7), and Watford’s Reece Bellotti, 14-3 (12), collide in a battle of ex-Commonwealth featherweight champs, while Ipswich’s Fabio Wardley, 8-0 (7), and Middlesbrough’s Simon Vallily, 17-2-1 (7), contest the vacant English heavyweight strap. Both bouts are over 10.