After pyrotechnics and fireworks lit up Eddie Hearn’s ‘back garden’, Ted Cheeseman and Sam Eggington replicated them in the ring with the predicted barnburner as the Londoner prevailed in a terrific scrap at Matchroom’s Fight Camp in Brentwood on Saturday night. Scores were 116-113 (twice) and 115-114.
An epic 12th round, where both men traded with abandon and seemed one shot away from victory or disaster, epitomised the thrilling nature of this evenly matched contest. Ultimately, Cheeseman’s edge in power and greater boxing nous saw him through despite a strong surge from Eggington in the second half of the fight.
For Cheeseman, victory was especially sweet, having suffered two points losses and a draw since his last win in October 2018.
“You can’t imagine. I see fighters lose who don’t care. I cared, I cried my eyes out, I stormed out of the ring. I’m a winner, I gave my heart to this sport and I felt that I deserved some luck last year, but I never got it,” said Cheeseman.
“A lot of people doubted me, thought I would tire. When it got tough, I had a fight with Sam. It was morale – I haven’t won for nearly two years – and you need confidence.
“I was confident going into that ring. There was no pressure with no crowd. I made mistakes but I boxed really well. I could have thought: ‘It isn’t going my way’. But I gave it my all. If I lost tonight, I would have retired. I could cry my eyes out with happiness.”
Eggington added: “You just have to roll with the punches. Ted got the decision today. Of course, I would like the rematch. I’m sure people would like to see it again.”
Brummie Eggington appeared resolute early until a right hand forced his legs to bend and he wobbled alarmingly back to the ropes in the second. A grinning Cheeseman poured on the pressure but Eggington, being Eggington, didn’t try to hold and chose to engage with his trademark machismo. He survived the round, but the portents weren’t good at all.
They traded blows in the third, but Cheeseman looked more incisive and technically astute with Eggington a little ragged defensively. Former British 154lbs champion Cheeseman can box and bang, whereas Eggington isn’t generally one for the cultured aspect of the game. It’s usually seek and destroy, or be destroyed. Around the midway point, the smoother Cheeseman was picking holes in Eggington’s defence with his greater variety.
Another big right from Cheeseman detonated in the sixth, but Eggington tore back with a stiff left hook. He sparked into life and Cheeseman seemed buzzed for the first time. Cheeseman’s nose was bleeding in the seventh as Eggington employed more educated pressure. The momentum was slowly swinging towards the Brummie.
They traded bombs in the eighth with defence an afterthought. Eggington seemed to be having the better of it when Cheeseman landed a huge right hand. He appeared to carry a crucial edge in power at critical moments.
The left eye of Eggington was steadily worsening, but a right hand bomb seemed to buzz Cheeseman in the ninth. He unloaded heavy hooks to the body before Cheeseman blasted back. It was now a war as advertised.
Eggington’s tighter defence, jab and bodywork had hauled him back into the contest. In the second half of the fight, he was a different animal. Cheeseman reverted to his purer boxing in the 11th round before Eggington dragged him back into the trenches.
In the last, Eggington rocked back Cheeseman’s head with a huge right hand in a corner. Cheeseman looked on the brink of defeat before he fired back to stun Eggington with a left hook. Then they traded liked rock ‘em, sock ‘em robots in a fitting finale.
A rejuvenated fighter at lightweight, Belfast banger James Tennyson unleashed those wrecking ball fists to continue his impressive run of stoppages at 135lbs with a sixth-round win over game-as-they-come Welshman Gavin Gwynne to earn the vacant British lightweight title. Tennyson threw almost every punch with bad intentions before the fight’s sudden and brutal conclusion.
The heavy-handed Tennyson immediately forced the fight on the front foot with waves of aggression, unleashing hefty hooks and right hands as Gwynne tried to stave off the incoming onslaught. A Gwynne right uppercut and left hook on the inside showed he meant business and wouldn’t succumb meekly.
A typically tough Welshman, Gwynne wasn’t crumbling at a feverish pace, firing back with crisp right uppercuts as Tennyson unloaded his trademark bombs in the third. Gwynne was competing and taking Tennyson’s best shots, working the body well. But he looked weary after the fourth as Tennyson tore away with heavy hooks and right uppercuts.
Tennyson was putting in an extraordinary effort. Every punch was thrown with menace, but there was always the danger he would punch himself out. Gwynne wasn’t budging and looking dangerous on the counter, with Tennyson’s nose bleeding. The Welshman was bang in the fight, but marked under both eyes by the end of the fifth.
Eventually, the pressure told. Suddenly, a crippling right hand sent Gwynne to the deck in the sixth. He rose in serious trouble. Hurtful right uppercuts and meaty left hooks rained in as Gwynne covered up and slumped on the ropes before referee Phil Edwards stepped in.
Former Commonwealth featherweight champion Jordan Gill was back to his smooth best, outfoxing and outboxing Watford pressure fighter Reece Bellotti in the show-opener. Scores were 97-93 (twice) and a ridiculously close 96-95.
After recovering from a debilitating thyroid problem, Gill looked sharp and relaxed, employing a silky jab while Bellotti remained in hot pursuit. The neat and competent boxing of Gill assumed control early and never let go. Bellotti tried to exert pressure, but found it hard to narrow the distance.
By the fourth, Bellotti was finally able to ruffle Gill on the inside and work him downstairs. But the Chatteris stylist looked closer to his old self in contrast to his draining loss to Mario Enrique Tinoco last year. He caught Bellotti on the way in with crisp hooks and uppercuts and the Watford man, nursing a nick over the right eye, needed to gamble more, but the fight drifted away.
Gill’s sharp work sliced through Bellotti after the midway point. His excellent jab and mastery of distance rattled Bellotti’s rhythm and turned a tough fight on paper into something of a clinic. It was never that close despite the cards.
Heavyweight hope Fabio Wardley produced his best performance to date with a three-round dismissal of former amateur star Simon Vallily to win the vacant English heavyweight title. Wardley rocked Valllily with a left hook that sent the Middlesbrough man careening to the ropes in the third. The Ipswich man riddled his hurt foe to head and body when referee Howard Foster stepped in with Vallily wilting on the perimeter and unable to fire back.
Sheffield’s touted 140-pounder Dalton Smith produced a chilling right hand to knock out Liverpool’s Nathan Bennett in the fifth round. Smith had boxed capably before the explosive finish where a long right hand landed flush and sent Bennett crashing to the deck with no hope of rising. Disturbingly, referee Ian John Lewis administered a count when the fight should have been waved off instantly. Fortunately, Bennett suffered no ill consequences.
Main image: Mark Robinson/Matchroom.