After marginally missing the boat at 147lbs, warlord Sam Eggington claims world honours await in the super-welter or middleweight divisions once he gets past undefeated French ace Bilel Jkitou on Friday 10th September at the Coventry Skydome Arena, live and free on Channel 5.
The 5ft 11in ‘Savage’ seemed a shoe-in to score a world title shot back in 2017 when, just 23, he sat proudly on the British, Commonwealth and European thrones, having just lifted the prestigious Boxing Writer’s Young Boxer of the Year award.
The humble but hardy father of three recently crowbarred his way into the WBC middleweight listings and still just 27 and with esteemed new promoter Mick Hennessy piloting his ship, the nine-year pro is as confident as he’s ever been that global glory awaits.
"I still believe it’ll happen for me at world level or I’d not still be doing it and that’s the truth," says Eggington who, having previously scalped Paulie Malignaggi, conquered a second world champion when bagging the WBC Silver strap against Carlos Molina in Coventry last May.
"Mick goes to hell and back for his fighters. He’ll take me where I need to go. I just have to play my part by winning the fights. I’m so much happier now. My coaches will vouch that I’ve never enjoyed training as much ever and that obviously helps. Before boxing was just a job. After I’d done my two sessions, you couldn’t pay me to do another. Today, I gladly do my own additional training, even when I’m out of camp."
The Smethwick-born fan favourite acknowledges that his ‘anyone, anywhere’ mindset has proven costly in the past. Most recently, he conceded an IBF rating after narrowly and controversially succumbing to Ted Cheeseman over 12 rounds last August, a decision that still rankles.
"It’s a double-edged sword. The fans love that I’ll face anyone but now I have to get clever,’ concedes Sam has been trained and managed by Jon Pegg for his entire career. I’ve never had a pathway before. My best chance of success would still probably be down at 154 because the biggest middleweights are seriously big lads. I know the type of confidence my size gave me at welter. But an opening came with the WBC at middle. It could be a risk fighting up at 160 but I’d not have a WBC belt if I didn’t take the gamble.
"With hindsight, I should’ve vacated the European title in 2017 because making welter got too hard. But people place far too much value into wins and losses. One loss won’t ever spoil my career. You just get back on the horse and push on. I don’t want to go through the eliminator process but if I was given a shot at Ted for the British (super-welter) I’d take it at a heartbeat."
Though Eggington’s cabinet is overloaded with the bounty he acquired as a ‘rock’em, sock’em 147lber, the Stourbridge slugger insists he is a different, improved beast up at the higher poundage.
"Experience brings you on and, technically, there’s a bit more about me now," says Eggington.
"At welter, I always knew I was bigger and stronger than the other lads. Up at a higher weight, I have to box differently, worry more about what’s coming back."
On Friday 10th September, headlining the show at the Coventry Skydome Arena, live and free on Channel 5, the world contender walks the tightrope against 15-0 French dangerman Bilel Jkitou, knowing that a stellar showing will vault him further up the WBC rankings.
"I honestly know very little about him. He’s unbeaten, works the body shots, has got funny hair! That’s it," quips Sam.
"I seldom watch even my own fights back but I’ve good coaches who take care of that part. He’s certainly not fought anyone at the level I’ve operated at. The Skydome was a decent venue with just half a crowd in May. At full capacity, it’ll be some atmosphere. I need to win well, look comfortable to improve my ranking. Win, lose or draw, I never disappoint."