Ted Cheeseman won a unanimous decision over Sam Eggington after a fierce fight on Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn’s first professional boxing show since the sport shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic in March.
Held in the back garden of the Matchroom office headquarters in Brentwood, Essex, super welterweight Cheeseman won an excellent yet gruelling fight by scores of 116-113, 116-113, 115-114.
No fans were present due to restrictions to stop the spread of the coronavirus, however fans could get the opportunity to see the pair fight it out again, as there is likely to be demand for a rematch after such an entertaining and close scrap.
Cheeseman (16-2-1, 9 KOs), 24, rescued his career after two defeats and a draw in his past three fights. The Londoner had also struggled with a gambling addiction and admitted defeat to Eggington would have ended his career.
Now, Cheeseman takes Eggington’s No. 5 ranking with the IBF, whose super welterweight world title is held by Miami-based Jeison Rosario (20-1-1, 14 KOs), from the Dominican Republic.
“I have come through my problems, I felt I deserved some luck over the last year, and I have come through it,” Cheeseman said.
“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.
“When I got tired, I stood and had a fight with Sam. I have not had a win for nearly two years, but I had such a good training camp.
“With my habits, this lockdown has been a blessing in disguise for me. I’ve been able to learn new things.
“It was great to not have a crowd and be able to communicate with [trainer] Tony [Sims]. If I lost tonight, I would have retired, but now I’m No. 5 in the world. I could cry my eyes out with happiness.”
Without a live gate, Hearn put on light shows and a fireworks display before the main event to add to the occasion, but it will be what Cheeseman and Eggington served up in the ring that will be remembered on Matchroom’s return.
Cheeseman controlled the first half of the fight and hurt Eggington in the second round, but Eggington rallied in the later rounds.
For Eggington (28-7, 17 KOs), 26, from Stourbridge in the Midlands, the defeat ended a four-fight winning streak after being stopped by former world titleholder Liam Smith in March 2019.
“Being in there, it felt like a good fight, I’m sure people would like to see it again, maybe with fans,” Eggington said.
Eggington seemed to be controlling the fight early on behind his jab until he came close to being dropped in the second round. Eggington had just landed a good combination when Cheeseman fired with a hard right that buckled Eggington’s legs. Moments later, Cheeseman left Eggington on wobbly legs with another right.
Eggington grinned and managed to avoid another hard shot that would surely have sent him down. Cheeseman, who lost his previous fight on points to Scott Fitzgerald for the British title, was tidy and sharper in the third and fourth rounds.
Eggington improved in the sixth round, which included some great exchanges, and he went on to dominate the seventh round, landing some stinging right hands.
Eggington was winning the eighth through volume of punches but he was again rocked by a right hand on the counter.
The ninth was fought at close range, and both had spells of dominance in the final three rounds.
The final round was fought toe-to-toe, with both landing hard shots and hurting the other.
Tennyson looks strong at lightweight
Northern Irishman James Tennyson showed he is still a dangerous puncher after a move to lightweight after halting Welshman Gavin Gwynne (12-1, 2 KOs) in the sixth round for the vacant British lightweight title in the show’s chief support.
It was a fifth successive win for Belfast-based Tennyson (27-3, 23 KOs) since a fifth-round stoppage defeat to American Tevin Farmer for the IBF world junior lightweight title in Boston in October 2018.
Gwynne (12-2, 2 KOs), 30, from Treharris, bravely absorbed shots before he got caught clean by a big right hook which prompted him to sink to a knee for a count in the sixth round.
Tennyson, 26, a former European and British junior lightweight champion, piled on the pressure to leave Gwynne’s face covered in blood, and the fight was sensibly stopped.
“I was told to be patient, stick to my shots,” Tennyson said.
Hearn said Tennyson will now target the European title and also mentioned former world champion Jorge Linares as a possible future opponent.
In an English heavyweight title bout, Fabio Wardley stopped Simon Vallily in three rounds for his best win yet of a three-year professional career.
Vallily (17-3-1, 7 KOs), 34, from Middlesbrough, won a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games during a distinguished amateur career.
In contrast, Wardley (9-0, 8 KOs), 25, from Ipswich, did not have any amateur experience and turned professional after four white-collar bouts.
But Wardley never looked out of place in his toughest test. The Ipswich boxer first staggered Vallily with a left hook and then pounced on his opponent to unload a barrage of shots to body and head to force the stoppage.
Sheffield lightweight Dalton Smith (6-0, 5 KOs), 23, once again showed his knockout power by laying out Liverpool’s Nathan Bennett (9-2, 2 KOs) with a right to the temple in the fifth round, which left his opponent in need of oxygen from the ringside medics.
In the first bout on Hearn’s first show since March 7, Jordan Gill (25-1, 7 KOs), from Chatteris, unanimously outpointed Reece Bellotti (14-4,12 KOs) in an important step forward for his career after losing unbeaten record just over a year ago.