Chris Oliver previews the first of four 'Fight Camp' cards as Ted Cheeseman takes on Sam Eggington on what should be an entertaining night.
Boxing is beginning to pick up on these shores again and things step up another gear this weekend with the start of 'Fight Camp' on Sky Sports.
There have been three UK shows already from Frank Warren in the BT Studios, now Eddie Hearn's Matchroom outfit are back in business with the first of four consecutive weekends of action from the grounds of their HQ. Formerly the Hearn family home, this Essex mansion was once the promoter's back garden and is now where he begins his comeback from the break forced by Covid-19.
With only five bouts allowed per show, we have been promised that there are no easy ones in Fight Camp and they have certainly delivered on that front this Saturday. Barring Sheffield prospect Dalton Smith being strongly expected to overcome Nathan Bennett in the opener, the remainder look set to be very competitive - even if the betting doesn't quite suggest they are quite 50-50 encounters.
A prime example is the main event between TED CHEESEMAN and Sam Eggington, who are top prices of 2/7 and 7/2 respectively despite it being a fight that has really divided opinion and one that most fans would have much closer in the market. One thing everybody seems to agree on, though, is that it can't fail be an entertaining clash. Both men like to be on the front foot and, not noted for their defence, are often happy to take two to give one, so 'Egg' and 'Cheese' look sure to serve up a tasty treat (sorry, I couldn't resist!).
It's hard to believe both men are still only in their mid-twenties given they seem to have been around for a long time and have seen their once shining stars diminish recently, making this a real crossroads fight that neither can afford to lose.
Cheeseman, the younger man at 24, turned over in 2015 after a good amateur career and had a seat on the hype train after wins over Carson Jones, Paul Upton and Asinia Byfield in 2018 took him to 15-0. However, his ascent was derailed during a disastrous 2019, which started with a 12-round beating at the hands of European champion Sergio Garcia, before labouring to a draw when a big favourite against Kieron Conway and then losing his British title in another points loss to Scott Fitzgerald.
The 26-year-old Eggington (28-6) surpassed all expectations to pick up British, Commonwealth and European titles at welterweight during a fantastic period between 2014 and 2018, before he outgrew the 147lb division and soon after was the victim of a huge upset at light middleweight when stopped in two rounds by the unknown Hassan Mwakinyo. In March last year he was outclassed and beaten up by Liam Smith over five painful rounds and looked to be on his way out, but six months later he went to Italy to stop the well-fancied Orlando Fiordigiglio in the second stanza and now finds himself back headlining again.
It seems to be a case of if you like the size Cheeseman or the momentum of Eggington when choosing who to side with here. The latter was easily bullied by Smith in his last defeat and the favourite, who is big for the weight, will fancy his chances of doing the same. Yet it is hard to be confident about a man who has not won any of his last three bouts and has admitted to plenty of problems outside the ring due to a gambling addiction, although he does insist that is all behind him now.
They have both have plenty of miles on the clock for their age and, in what looks sure to be another gruelling encounter, it may come down to who has the most left, which we won't know until it is too late. A Cheeseman stoppage looks the most likely outcome, but the 5/4 makes no appeal given the tricky nature of this one and I much prefer the 3/1 about him getting the job done in the second half of the fight. He isn't the biggest puncher but can wear down his opponents with constant pressure and if either man is going to wilt, it is more likely to be the naturally smaller Eggington.
The fight that initially jumped out at me was JORDAN GILL against Recce Bellotti, both of whom were highly-touted before surprise defeats, and this one could well steal the show.
While you are struggling to get better than 1/4 for Gill, Bellotti is very dangerous with his heavy hands and the 7/2 available about the latter at the time of writing may not be around for much longer if the support for him so far this week continues.
Bellotti showcased his power en route to winning first his first 12 outings, 11 of which came early, and looked to be really going places, only for Ryan Doyle to not read the script and stop the Watford man in five rounds when they met just over two years ago.
The same Ryan Doyle was then dismantled over seven sessions by Gill next time out in a brilliant display that left many believing the Dave Coldwell-trained fighter could go all the way to claim world honours, which made his eight-round defeat to unknown Mexican Mario Enrique Tinoco in May last year all the more shocking. There may have been reasons for that lacklustre performance, however, as strong rumours suggest he was ill with stomach problems during fight week and simply refused to pull out of his first headline show. This is his chance to get back on track.
Bellotti is always dangerous with his heavy artillery and will bring heat for as long as he is in there, but Gill has all the tools to disarm 'The Bomber' and remind us of what he is capable of. 'The Thrill' has lovely feet and moves well, while dishing out sharp and accurate punches from a varied arsenal, and is fancied to repeatedly make his opponent pay and rack up the points here. Bellotti has lost two narrow split decisions in his four outings since the Doyle defeat and another scorecard loss could be on the horizon here, with the skilful Gill unlikely to want to engage too much at close quarters, and he rates a solid bet at 11/10 to get the nod from the judges.
In another match up of banger versus boxer, JAMES TENNYSON is fancied to makes his experience count against Gavin Gwynne in what should be another entertaining encounter - while it lasts.
Tennyson is all action and tends to either stop his man or get stopped, with 22 of his 26 victories coming early and all three defeats ending before the halfway mark. The latest of those was in a world title tilt against Tevin Farmer in America, form which will stand him in very good stead in this contest, and wins over the likes of Martin J. Ward and Craig Evans (last time out) are much better than any victims of Gwynne.
The Welshman did step up in class to take on talented compatriot Joe Cordina last year, but that resulted in his sole defeat in 12 fights via a wide points margin. At 6'0”, he is huge for a lightweight but doesn't really sit down on his punches, as a record of only two stoppages tells you, and his tactics will be to try and outbox his shorter opponent.
However, with little fear of what is coming back, Tennyson may be able to catch up with him and his chances of getting a fifth straight stoppage victory since stepping up to the 135lb division are helped by the fact that this is a 12-rounder. He can get the job done inside the distance, which is a tempting 11/8, but he is more likely to do it in the latter stages, just as he did against Evans (round 11) last time, and the 4/1 about the Belfast native getting another second half stoppage rates the value option.
Posted at 1015 BST on 31/07/20
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