HAVING been without a win in his previous three bouts, Ted Cheeseman claimed a crucial victory over Sam Eggington after 12 action-packed rounds in the first instalment of Matchroom Boxing’s Fight Camp series.
At the brand-new and highly impressive purpose-built open-air venue in the grounds of Matchroom HQ, both super-welterweights got to work quickly in what was a close and competitive opening three minutes. In the second, Eggington, 26, supplemented sharp jabs with swift rights. However, it was Cheeseman who took the round after connecting with a couple of clean left-right combinations that staggered the Stourbridge slugger, who responded with a defiant smile.
Exhibiting good variety, Cheeseman, 24, put his punches together nicely in the third and maintained a tight defence for the most part. Eggington got through with increased frequency in round four, though the versatile Cheeseman still looked the more comfortable and composed of the two. This was also the case in the fifth, with the Bermondsey boxer beating Eggington to the punch and rattling off educated flurries.
There was some absorbing two-way warfare in the sixth – a round in which Eggington showed improvements. The seventh was another positive session for the former British, Commonwealth and European welterweight titlist, as clever head movement kept him out of trouble and solid jabs bloodied Cheeseman’s nose. They each landed hard and hurtful strikes in a gruelling eighth.
Round nine was fought almost exclusively in the pocket, with both men digging in spiteful shots and demonstrating commendable fitness levels. The skin around Eggington’s eyes was noticeably swollen in the 10th, though he was still able the thrust out a productive jab. Cheeseman raised the tempo again in the 11th but the ex-British super-welter champ had to stomach some biting body work from Eggington.
Cheeseman targeted the midsection well at the start of the 12th, but Eggington came on strong midway through and seemingly had the Londoner in trouble. Incredibly, Cheeseman bit down on his gumshield and unleashed a barrage of blows in response, with the two proud warriors swapping fierce punches right up until the final bell.
At the end of a stirring, very well-matched fight, Cheeseman was awarded a unanimous verdict by two scores of 116-113 (Phil Edwards and Ian John-Lewis) and one of 115-114 (Howard Foster). Michael Alexander refereed.
After defeating Eggington, who was ranked at No. 5 by the IBF heading into the clash, an emotional Cheeseman was understandably delighted. “I knew this was my last chance,” he said. “If I’d lost this then I would’ve retired. A lot of people were doubting me but I was still confident going into that ring. I could cry my eyes out with happiness.”
In the chief support, Belfast’s former IBF super-featherweight title challenger James Tennyson secured the vacant British lightweight crown by stopping the gritty Gavin Gwynne in an entertaining encounter. The scrapping duo went head to head and exchanged punches up close in the opener. Marked up early on, Gwynne tried to deter his heavy-handed rival with one-twos in the second round, but Tennyson drove thumping hooks and uppercuts through the Welshman’s guard.
Gwynne’s accuracy was on point in the third, yet Tennyson remained threatening with his obvious power. The action was incessant in the fourth as the fighters traded shots, though Tennyson’s attacks carried the greater weight. The taller Gwynne toughed it out in the fifth and gave as good as he got, though his bruised and battered features were showing the signs of battle.
Treharris’ Gwynne, who was having his second crack at British 135lb honours, was forced to take a knee in the sixth after swallowing a thunderous right hook. A ferocious two-fisted salvo from Tennyson then led referee Edwards to intervene at 2-30.
In a 10-rounder between a pair of ex-Commonwealth featherweight champions, Jordan Gill earned a well-deserved unanimous decision over Reece Bellotti. Gill pumped out his jab successfully in the first two rounds, while Bellotti attempted to press the Chatteris man and target the body. Gill continued to display neat footwork in the third, preventing his opponent from closing the distance.
The dogged Bellotti stubbornly stuck at it in round four and enjoyed a more fruitful frame. The Watford fighter connected with a stiff right over the top of Gill’s jab in the fifth, but Jordan soon got his lead left going again. A cut opened over Bellotti’s right eye in the next session, as Gill made him miss with some smart movement.
With Bellotti refusing to take a backward step, Gill picked his shots intelligently on the move in the seventh. In the following round, stinging jabs consistently hit the mark from Gill, who managed the closing two stanzas effectively to cap an encouraging performance. Mr Alexander and Mr Foster both scored the contest 97-93, while Mr Edwards had it surprisingly close at 96-95. Mr John-Lewis was the referee.
Rising Ipswich heavyweight Fabio Wardley clinched the vacant English belt with an eye-catching third-round stoppage of Middlesbrough’s more experienced Simon Vallily. A short left hook caused Vallily to stumble back to the ropes, where Wardley followed up with a vicious onslaught to end matters at 1-01. Mr Foster officiated.
Sheffield’s Dalton Smith stepped up to eight rounds for the first time but needed just five of them to see off game Liverpudlian Nathan Bennett. The super-lightweight prospect wiped Bennett out with a perfectly timed right hand at 2-56. Mr John-Lewis refereed.
THE VERDICT A super show to kick off proceedings at the Matchroom Fight Camp.
Ted Cheeseman (153 1/4lbs), 16-2-1 (9), w pts 12 Sam Eggington (153 3/4lbs), 28-7 (17); James Tennyson (134 1/2lbs), 27-3 (23), w rsf 6 Gavin Gwynne (134 1/4lbs), 12-2 (2); Jordan Gill (125 3/4lbs), 25-1 (7), w pts 10 Reece Bellotti (125 1/4lbs), 14-4 (12); Fabio Wardley (224lbs), 9-0 (8), w rsf 3 Simon Vallily (224 1/2lbs), 17-3-1 (7); Dalton Smith (140 1/2lbs), 6-0 (5), w ko 5 Nathan Bennett (140lbs), 9-2 (2).