Ted Cheeseman (16-2-1, 9 KOs) put his career back on track as he battled his way to a hard-fought unanimous points decision over Sam Eggington (28-7, 17 KOs) in a cracking top of the bill on the opening night of Eddie Hearn’s Fight Camp at Matchroom’s headquarters in Brentwood, Essex.
Cheeseman dominated the early rounds, when he was light on his feet, but he almost let things slip as he was drawn into the sort of gruelling battle than many expected.
After three fights without winning in 2019, Cheeseman admitted he was facing retirement if he lost. But he won through, with a unanimous 12-round decision, taking the verdict by 116-113 on the cards of Phil Edwards and Ian John-Lewis, and by 115-114, according to Howard Foster.
“I’ve seen fighters lose sometimes and the come back to the changing room and they don’t care,” Cheeseman said. “Everyone has seen that every time I lose I am very upset.
“I cried my eyes out after (Sergio) Garcia, I stormed out of the ring after (Kieron) Conway, I stormed out of the ring after (Scott) Fitzgerald. I’m a winner and I love winning. I have given my heart and soul to the sport and come through my problems. I thought I deserved a bit of luck the last year, but I never got it.
“I stayed determined, I pushed on and had a tough fight again, I never came back with a warm up. When I got a little bit tired, I stood down and had a fight with Sam. I know I can box and fight, but maybe I (lacked) a bit of morale and confidence, I hadn’t won of nearly two years.
“But I had a great camp and was confident going in that ring. I had no pressure with no crowd here. It was great to have no crowd and just communicate with Tony (Sims, his trainer). I know I made a few mistakes, but I boxed really well considering I’ve come off two losses and a draw.
“At times, when it got tough, I could have thought ‘I’m winning, but it is just not going my way, it is just one of them nights again’. But I bit down on my gumshield and gave my all.
“This was my last chance. If I lost tonight I was retired, but now I could be No 5 in the world, I’m IBF international champion, I could cry my eyes out with happiness.”
Victory was set up by an impressive opening five rounds by Cheeseman.
The first big moment came in the final minute of the second round, as Cheeseman landed a big right hand in an exchange that wobbled Eggington and followed it up with another right that rocked him back into the ropes. Eggington covered up but tried to come back firing rather than riding out the round.
That success gave Cheeseman a spring in his step and he began to move well and was finding Eggington an easy target.
If Eggington had expected this to be a toe-to-toe war, he was disappointed, early on at least. Cheeseman was boxing with plenty of discipline, staying out of trouble and often making Eggington look slow. In the fifth round, Cheeseman opened
Eggington had to adapt and did, backing into the ropes and looping punches over the top as Cheeseman came forward. In the sixth, he landed a crushing left hook off the ropes that had Cheeseman backing off.
Suddenly, Eggington seemed to be getting the upper hand as Cheeseman was slower on his feet and now hampered by damage to his nose. Near the end of the eighth, both landed crushing right hands and while Cheeseman’s seemed to have the bigger impact, it was Eggington who finished the round again the better.
Now it had turned into the war many expected. Suddenly Cheeseman found himself in the way of everything that Eggington was throwing, while Cheeseman was often falling short.
But having been on top in the tenth round, things looked to be sliding away from Eggington in the eleventh, prompting a huge final effort by Eggington in the final round. A big right and then a left hook rocked Cheeseman, but he then fired back, forcing Eggington into the corner and landing a big overhand right. At the final bell they were trading shots.