The first show of Matchroom Boxing’s summer season, starting on August 1, features five very even matchups, headlined by Sam Eggington vs Ted Cheeseman.
The first of four shows announced by Eddie Hearn in the last week of July will kick off with ‘The Savage’ vs ‘The Big Cheese’, which is a fantastic fight to mark the return of boxing on Sky Sports.
Birmingham’s Sam Eggington (28-6, 17KOs) was comprehensively out-boxed and outgunned by former world champion Liam Smith just over a year ago, which took his loss column up to six defeats and signalled the end of his career for some, but then five months later the Stourbridge boxer has reeled off four victories, claimed an IBF International super welterweight title and is now ranked No.5 with the International Boxing Federation, within touching distance of a world title fight with unified champ Jeison Rosario.
In his 35th contest he defends his IBF strap to Bermondsey’s Ted Cheeseman (15-2-1, 9KOs), a former English and British super welterweight champion.
Trained by Tony Sims, the 24-year-old challenger has had a rocky road recently. Not only did his rapid rise come to a grinding halt when he was surprisingly outclassed by Spaniard Sergio Garcia (28-0) in their European super welterweight title fight in February 2019, but he was then held to a draw in his step back down to domestic level by stand-in opponent Kieron Conway (12-1) in a maiden defence of his British belt in June last year. He then suffered a subsequent loss to Scott Fitzgerald in his second defence, which he took rather badly, believing he had done enough to retain his Lonsdale belt.
He boxed very differently in that fight, picking off ‘Fitzy’ from the outside, landing some really clean, head-rocking shots, but was unfortunate to not get the decision. He made the challenger miss all night and looked so confident in the second half of the bout, dropping his hands down low and bouncing around on his toes. He didn’t ever commit to any power punches, choosing to stick and move instead. Fitzgerald’s late rally in the final few rounds must have swung the verdict in his favour.
Outside of the ring, he revealed he had suffered even bigger losses due to his gambling addiction, which he assures he now has under control. So 2019 was a pretty bad year for the Millwall fan, which should create a stronger, more resilient, resolute, determined fighter who will be desperate for a win.
Cheeseman is a quality operator with good movement and overall good boxing ability due to his pedigree from the amateurs. He has shown from his last fight that he can adapt his style and learn.
Sam Eggington’s last loss was to Liverpool’s Liam Smith, who proved to be a class above as a former world champion who once shared the ring with Canelo Alvarez.
Tony Bellew said that Sam’s greatest asset is his durability, which is not a great talent to have! He is well known for being easy to hit, with minimal head movement and slow reflexes. His resilience allows him to continue to walk through punishment, but only for so long, as ‘Beefy’ proved with his brutal one-sided pummelling in just five rounds. It was a complete mismatch and it was painful to watch the shots repeatedly landing on his increasingly marked face.
Trained by Jon Pegg, Sam has good momentum going into his 35th professional contest and his confidence will be sky high as the defending champion. He won the IBF International super welterweight belt with an aggressive performance against Italian Orlando Fiordigiglio (31-2) who was defending the belt for the first time in his backyard in Florence. Sam visibly hurt the 35-year-old champion from the very first punch and ruthlessly punished him in the second round with unyielding pressure and a clinical finish.
The Stourbridge ‘Savage’, at only 26-years-old, has already had a staggering career with a plethora of accomplishments and titles. He has claimed eight titles during his eight-year career so far, including British and European welterweight honours.
He has fought one other former world champion when he ended Paulie Malignaggi’s (36-7) career in 2017 with an eighth-round stoppage victory. He has also ruined three fighters’ unbeaten records when he beat Johnny Garton (11-0), Shayne Singleton (20-0) and Glenn Foot (15-0).
It’s a classic ‘Boxer vs Puncher’ matchup. If Sam can close the gap and slow Ted down, then he will be able to unleash his heavy hands on the Londoner with his usual devastating effect that mostly results in an early night.
Following Cheeseman’s previous performance, there’s not a very good case for that happening. His footwork was exemplary and he has a very good chance of out-boxing the Midlander from afar, picking him off from the outside to rack up the rounds in his favour.
It’s an intriguing, pick ‘em fight, with a clash of two different styles. Eggington’s best chance of winning will be to go for the stoppage, whereas Cheeseman has the ability to box clever to win on points.
Both boxers need the win, but the loser will still have plenty of time on their side to bounce back again.
Belfast ‘Assassin’ James Tennyson (26-3, 22KOs) challenges for his second title at lightweight since he made the move up after his IBF World super featherweight title defeat to Tevin Farmer (26-4-1) in 2018.
As a 135lbs fighter, the 26-year-old Northern Irishman has stopped all four of his foes – unbeaten Garry Neale (10-0); South American journeyman Brayan Mairena (10-10-1); Rotherham’s Atif Shafiq (21-2) to win the vacant WBA International lightweight title; and two-time WBO European titlist Craig Evans (20-2-2).
Managed by Chris Sanigar, Gavin Gwynne (12-1, 2KOs) gets his second crack at the 135lbs Lonsdale belt a year after his first attempt in August 2019 against unbeaten talent Joe Cordina (9-0), which ended in a unanimous decision.
He bounced back from his sole career defeat with a first-round stoppage of London 2012 Olympian Abdon Cesar (4-10) three months later in November.
Tennyson has proven to be a beast at lightweight and both hands are destructive. His right hand is his most effective tool, but he also rocks his opponents with his left too. He enters fights with one ambition to stop his rivals and it works.
‘Welsh Wizard’ Joe Cordina managed to land freely on Gwynne, and if Tennyson can score that right hand of his, or even the left to the body, in the same way then it will definitely be an early night.
Jordan ‘The Thrill’ Gill (24-1, 7KOs) returns to ring for the first time in 11 months to face Reece ‘Bomber’ Bellotti (14-3, 12KOs) in a 12-round non-title featherweight contest.
The 29-year-old from Watford has had a disappointing couple of years since winning the Commonwealth featherweight strap in October 2017 and defending it successfully in February 2018. He lost the colourful belt in his second defence, then lost a close decision against long-reigning British featherweight champion Ryan Walsh (22-2-2), and most recently dropped another close decision to Italian Francesco Grandelli (12-1-1) with the vacant WBC International Silver featherweight belt on the line. Sandwiched between that trio of reverses were two wins against lesser competition.
‘Bomber’s’ first loss was to Ryan Doyle (16-2-1) in round five, who Gill defeated in seven rounds to win the Commonwealth title in October 2018 in what was ‘Ruthless’ Ryan’s first defence since taking it away from Bellotti four months prior.
Doyle shocked everyone with the stoppage win over Bellotti, who was winning the competitive contest until a big right hand crashed him to the canvas in the fifth. It was the first time Doyle had prepared full-time for a fight and it paid off for him.
He did the same against Jordan Gill, but was outclassed by the challenger. Trained by David Coldwell, Gill’s movement and boxing skill was too good for the champion to handle.
25-year-old Gill has a lovely jab, which his opponents, such as Doyle, find it hard to get past. Although not particularly heavy handed, with just seven stoppages from 25 contests, Gill can hurt his opponents with his accuracy and speed, and he always looks to jump on his prey with unrelenting pressure when he senses the finish.
Gill has the ability to out-box Bellotti, but with 12KOs from 14 wins, there’s always a puncher’s chance. For many boxing purists, this is the fight of the night.
Unbeaten heavyweight Fabio Wardley (8-0, 7KOs), 25 from Ipswich, takes a big leap up in class against Middlesbrough’s Simon Vallily 17-2-1, 7KOs) for the vacant English title.
Vallily is 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games and ABA champion, who campaigned at cruiserweight for most of his career, suffering two losses in that division to the outstanding Mairis Briedis (20-0), who stopped Simon in the third round of their 2016 fight, then won the WBC World cruiserweight title in his following fight with Marco Huck (40-3-1).
Vallily was dropped in the first round against Craig Glover (8-1) then stopped in round eight in what was a very disappointing performance in his last fight at 200lbs. Glover was badly marked up and cut by Vallily, but he hurt him with body shots to back him up onto the ropes then unloaded until referee Howard Foster was forced to step in.
Since that defeat, he has defeated four lower-level opponents on the trot with three stoppages, weighing between 220-230lbs.
Trained by Rob Hodgins and managed by Dillian Whyte, Wardley is the polar opposite to his ninth opponent Vallily, who will actually be just his 20th opponent ever, having had no amateur background and only 11 white collar fights to draw from. Despite this inexperience, the 25-year-old is unbeaten in eight pro bouts with seven KOs, and has sparred the likes of his mentor Dillian Whyte, history-making cruiserweight Oleksandr Usyk and two-time heavyweight champion Tyson Fury.
Wardley is quite agile and light on his feet for a big man, he possesses a sharp jab, heavy hands, and his uppercut is his best punch. He does have a tendency to get caught, especially when his hands are held low as they quite often are, so it remains to be seen how he copes against a decent opponent.
Both boxers are ranked in the top 15 heavyweights in Britain, so this should make for a very exciting fight.
The ‘Thunder’ from Sheffield Dalton Smith (5-0, 4KOs) was an outstanding amateur who won every national title from schoolboys to seniors. The former Team GB boxer gets his first real test in the paid ranks against Liverpool’s Nathan Bennett (9-1, 2KOs).
The 27-year-old Merseysider has only ever dropped one decision to Ben Fields (7-7-2), who is a talented journeyman that worked his way into contention for an English title eliminator by beating five home fighters during 2019, with one draw as well. There’s no shame in losing to Digbeth’s Fields, who ended 2019 with a winning record of nine wins and eight losses.
In this fight, it’s a step up for Steel City Gym’s latest prospect, but one that he should come through unscathed. His boxing ability is very high and with his experienced dad, Grant, in the corner, and his skilled pedigree behind him, he should be able to outclass Bennett in this lightweight contest.