In the main event of an entertaining, well-produced, undeniably unique first “Fight Camp” card from the garden at Matchroom Boxing HQ, Ted Cheeseman edged a 12-round win in a tough, back-and-forth fight with Sam Eggington, taking a minor IBF title at 154 pounds and improving his standing with that sanctioning body.
Cheeseman (16-2-1, 9 KO) won on scores of 115-114, 116-113, and 116-113. Bad Left Hook had the fight 114-114, even, with Eggington (28-7, 17 KO) constantly keeping himself in the fight, and doing some good work in the second half of the bout, particularly.
Both fighters got hurt, left the fights with their faces showing the marks, Cheeseman also was hurt to the body a few times, and though it wasn’t a Gatti-Ward or anything, it was a consistently entertaining fight where both fighters put 100 percent effort in, right down to a great final round where both men felt the shots and poured everything they had into finishing strong.
The 24-year-old Cheeseman, a former British champion and European title challenger, was 0-2-1 in his last three fights, though the last two — a draw and a loss — could easily have gone his way. This was a big lift for him, obviously, but he really had to earn it, as Eggington, 26, fought arguably the best all-around bout of his entire career to date, and he’s a former European, British, and Commonwealth champion at 147 pounds.
An emotional Cheeseman put into words how big this really is for him and his career, saying he would have retired had he lost again.
“I’ve seen fighters lose sometimes and come back to training, and they don’t care. But every time I lose, I’m very upset. I’ve cried my eyes out,” he said. “I’m a winner, I love winning. I give my heart and soul to the sport. I thought I deserved better luck last year, and I never got it, but I stayed determined. I never came back with a warm-up, I stayed in tough fights.
“When it got tough in there, I sat down and had a fight with Sam. I know I can box and I can fight. I hadn’t had a win for nearly two years. You need the confidence. But I was confident in that ring. I had no pressure. there was no crowd. I know I made a few mistakes, but I boxed really well considering I come off two losses and a draw. I stood in there. I dug down, bit down on the gum shield and went for it, give it my all. If I lost tonight, I was retired. I’m back in this.”
Eggington felt he did enough, but said he’d watch it back.
“You always think you’ve done enough, don’t you?” he said. “It was a hard fight. I’m tired, my muscles are aching, I thought I’d done enough, but I have to watch it back. It was a good fight, no doubt. You just have to roll with the punches. It is what it is.”
Asked if he wanted a rematch, Eggington said yes. “Of course, it was a great fight. It felt like a good fight. I’m sure people would like to see it again, with a crowd maybe.”
James Tennyson TKO-6 Gavin Gwynne
An outstanding action fight, with a very fast pace from the start, Gwynne giving it his all, but the power of Tennyson simply made the difference here. Both guys landed — and threw — a lot of leather, really non-stop banging from both guys, but Gwynne just couldn’t discourage Tennyson, who marked Gwynne up progressively and then finished things up in the sixth round.
Tennyson (27-3, 23 KO) wins the vacant British lightweight title here, and he really thinks he has the power and ability and strength at 135 to be a world title challenger, which he was down at 130 but it didn’t turn out well for him in a loss to Tevin Farmer in 2018.
Gwynne, 30, was trying for a second time to win this title, having come up short against Joe Cordina in Aug. 2019, when he lost a decision. Tennyson, 26, dropped Gwynne in the sixth round, and then just put the fire to him until referee Phil Edwards stopped the contest at 2:30 of that round.
It’s a really nice win for Tennyson, a step toward where he wants to get, obviously, and establishes him at the very least as a clear top domestic fighter at 135. It’s a devastating second setback for Gwynne, who has skills and heart but that lack of power really hurts him at the higher levels, even just domestically.
But this was, again, a great fight, and if you missed it, go seek it out.
“He’s a real tough lad, he gave a great account of himself,” Tennyson said of Gwynne. “He’s a tough guy, it was a great fight. I just stuck to the plan, stuck to what my trainer told me — be patient, move around, pick my shots, don’t just try to put it on him.”
“When James is in there, he has dynamite in his hands, especially at 135 pounds,” promoter Eddie Hearn said. “It was so exciting. Domestically, I want to see him move on from British level. He’s done. He’s done that. I want to see him up with [European or world title] fighters. I’d love to see him fight Francesco Patera or Jorge Linares. James Tennyson can light up the place.”
Fabio Wardley TKO-3 Simon Vallily
Vallily (17-3-1, 7 KO) was once a standout amateur heavyweight (not super heavyweight) who looked like a decent pro prospect at cruiserweight, but he’s 34 now and been undone a couple times coming into this one. He’s at heavyweight these days, but he doesn’t have a lot to offer against serious opponents, and the 25-year-old Wardley (9-0, 8 KO) caught him with a left hook, which knocked Vallily back, and then the prospect pounced and finished things. Vallily did stay up, but he was being battered against the ropes, and referee Howard Foster called it off at 1:01 of the third.
Wardley is an interesting prospect but certainly not a blue chipper. He’s still kind of learning on the job, but he’s athletic, keeps himself in shape, and can punch, and those things can go a long way, especially when in the heavyweight division the prime years can last well into your late 30s, particularly now.
“He’s got some work to do, but he’s a couple of fights away from [being a British contender],” promoter Eddie Hearn said. “I think there’s a great area of the country that can support him and the public can get behind him, as well. That was a big tick as a test passed tonight.”
Dalton Smith KO-5 Nathan Bennett
This ended with a brutal right hand knockout, a shot that caught Bennett right behind the ear and finished him off at 2:56 of the fifth round, but prior to that Bennett (9-2, 2 KO) had done a legitimately solid job giving the 23-year-old Smith (6-0, 5 KO) some decent looks and a learning experience sort of fight, occasionally using his dimensions — superior height and reach — to pop Smith with some shots and make him earn this.
Smith did earn it. The KO was filthy, and Smith was restrained in celebrating, as Bennett, 27, was truly out, which showed some class and some respect from the young fighter. Bennett was put on oxygen immediately after being counted out by referee Ian John Lewis, but he did get up, get to his corner, and seemed OK, you know, apart from just having his senses scrambled.
Smith is absolutely a serious prospect to be keeping tabs on if you haven’t been already. He’s one of the real gems of the young fighters in the Matchroom stable, be they in the UK or US. Talented young fighter with a lot of upside and some real skills and power.
Jordan Gill UD-10 Reece Bellotti
Scores here were 96-95, 97-93, and 97-93. The latter two cards, at least in my view, were closer than they should’ve been; the first card is ridiculously too close. BLH had this 99-91 for Gill, who rather handily controlled the fight with sharp, technically sound boxing, with Bellotti having very little sustained success whatsoever, though he did mark Gill up a bit. (Bellotti himself was also cut on a left hook in the sixth round, though.)
Bellotti (14-4, 12 KO) is a solid domestic-level featherweight, but flawed. He’s got power but loads up too often, and Gill (25-1, 7 KO) was able to dictate the pace and tempo of this pretty much throughout, starting sharp through three rounds, though Bellotti did find some success in the fourth, closing the distance and getting some better shots in.
Gill cruised down the stretch, though, starting when he really got back on form in the sixth round and was simply able to out-box and out-maneuver Bellotti fairly easily — well, it took effort, but he made it look easy, you know what I mean.
It’s a solid win for Gill, who was looking like he had world level potential until his food poisoning loss to Enrique Tinoco in May 2019, an excuse I buy for once, because even in that bout he looked good except when Tinoco got to the body. The 26-year-old Gill should certainly not be written off because of the L he took that night. He may not have true elite tier potential, but he’s a sound, smart boxer who looked good again in this one.