Sam Eggington doesn’t do dull. The Birmingham warrior, noted for his endless rumbles and all-action style, produced arguably his most exciting display yet in outpointing rock hard Frenchman Bilel Jkitou in a war for the ages at the Coventry Skydome on Friday night.

Scores were split – 117-111 and 117-112 for Eggington against a dissenting 116-112 nod for Jkitou in this middleweight 12-rounder, promoted by Hennessy Sports. Eggington held a slight edge throughout but the sturdy Jkitou made him work every second of the way. The Brummie showed the scars of war afterwards with a cut right eye and bloodied mouth.

Neither fighters or spectators could pause for breath during 12 rounds of non-stop action. Eggington (31-7, 18 KOs) was drawn into another war and his experience in the trenches served him well.

Jkitou (15-1, 6 KOs) came with an unbeaten record, a sizeable entourage and plenty of ambition. The exciting Eggington predictably brought early pressure but Jkitou stung him with a hefty left hook in a brisk opening round.

It was a phone booth war by the second with both men fighting in the pocket without a backward step taken. Birmingham’s Eggington employed more craft and movement in the third, but in the fourth Jkitou trapped the Brummie in a corner for an eternity, rocking the Englishman with a left hook before the house fighter fired back with gusto.

Eggington was pegged back in a corner in the fifth before steadying Jkitou with a feverish combination. It was thrilling stuff. The Brummie showed greater craft in the sixth and seemed to be impressing a semblance of control.

But Jkitou buzzed Eggington with a right hand in the seventh as the warfare showed no sign of abating. The Frenchman found a second wind and was in the ascendancy near the end of the round. Eggington still had the advantage, however.

Yet in the eighth, Jkitou stunned Eggington on the ropes with a left hook and the tide seemed to be turning. But Eggington reeled off impressive combinations in the remainder of the session to finish strongly.

Ever the entertainer, Eggington was locked in another madcap encounter but cut around the right eye in the ninth. In the 10th, they traded more bombs as the fight hung in the balance, with the Frenchman impressing to the body. 

Jkitou ploughed forward relentlessly in the 11th, but Eggington usually had an answer with his energy and workrate. The final round was pure warfare with neither man budging in ceaseless exchanges. They traded furiously to the bell before embracing warmly in mutual admiration. It was fantastic entertainment and a reminder of what boxing should be about amid a sea of mismatches.

Earlier, Monaghan welterweight hope Stevie McKenna (9-0, 8 KOs) was given a good test by doughty Frenchman Moussa Gary (11-4-2, 1 KO) before prevailing on the referee’s scorecard 60-54. 

The whirlwind McKenna had blown through eight straight opponents, but found a willing foil in Gary who came to win, meeting fire with fire in a spirited display. But McKenna’s greater venom and quality saw him home.