Italian job is a risk worth taking for Sam Eggington
Sam Eggington, the Black Country warrior who has given the game everything – and then some – is poised to blast his way back into the big time.
The Stourbridge-based, Birmingham-trained former European welterweight champ will fight abroad for the first time in his career next week – with a prestigious international title on the line.
Nothing, as yet, has been announced or confirmed, but Ringside understands Eggington, now campaigning at light-middle, will face Orlando Fiordigiglio in Florence on September 19.
It seems a sensible, if risky, move by 25-year-old Eggington. In Italy, winning is one thing, getting the decision another.
IBF international boss Fiordigiglio, a former EBU European titleholder, may have lost only two of 33 contests, but he’s 35 and has been matched carefully, even protectively.
He has not fought in the same class as 25-year-old Eggington, a man who has tamed – and tamed spectacularly – such illustrious operators as Frankie Gavin , Paul Malignaggi and Ceferino Rodriguez.
There’s bitter blended with the sweet on Sam’s 26-6 record, with inside-distance losses to unheralded Hassan Mwakinyo and, in March, world-class Liam Smith for the WBC silver belt.
Sam Eggington also lost his European belt on points to Frenchman Mohamed Mimoune.
Jon Pegg declined to confirm the Italian job was on, but said: “I think it’s a good fight for us, I really do. The Italian’s not a big puncher, he’s 35. He’s a nice boxer, but he’s not hard to it.”
Eggington tuned up – and that description should be in bold and capitals – with a six-round victory over journeyman Lewis van Poetsche at Oldham Leisure Centre on Saturday.
For Gloucestershire’s “Poochi”, it was loss No.108 on a 119-fight record (two draws).
The victory – Eggington didn’t drop a session – was predictable. His weight on the night was a surprise, however: he weighed 12st, one stone over the light-middle limit.
Sam adopted a measured and polished display against van Poetsche
Pegg is at pains to point out the weigh-in took place on the day of the bout when his fighter had carbed up and rehydrated. The day before, Eggington was 11st 3lbs.
Sam abandoned the savage, swashbuckling style that has made him such a fans’ favourite, adopting a measured, thoughtful and polished display against van Poetsche.
The statistics from that mark-time encounter make very interesting reading. The Eastside gym star threw, on average, 100 punches per round and cranked that up to 120 in rounds four and five. That is some leather slung.
Pegg was thoroughly satisfied with the night’s work.
He said: “Sam could have been a bit reckless and got him out of there, but he worked on things. We had him pumping the jab out every round.
“It’s about longevity. It gave him the chance to practice and experiment and that’s something Sam’s not been able to do. People forget he’s been in title fights since the age of 19. You don’t always have to go full out.”
Pegg is the king of ring diplomacy, but whispers – whispers that threatened to become a roar following the loss to Smith – that his boxer is shopworn and on the slide following a string of thrilling battles clearly rankle.
“The people who say that are simply following what they’ve heard,” he said. “Top fighters take punishment. Look at Manny Pacquiao, he’s been knocked out cold on a couple of occasions. Sam has been dropped once in his career. Frank Bruno had four stoppage losses before he took the world heavyweight title.
“With Sam, they say, ‘he’s taken punishment, he must be finished’. How come all those other fighters weren’t finished?”
Surprisingly, given Sam’s European title loss was blamed on the rigours of making welter, Pegg insists he can, and probably will, return to the 10½st division.
“At the check weigh-in seven weeks ago, Sam was 11st 3lbs,” he explained.
“A welterweight can be a stone over the limit one month before a contest. I doubt there’s a light-middleweight in the world who would be 11st 3lbs seven weeks before.”
Title glory again beckons for Eggington – and the pride of the Black Country is itching for a pizza the action.
Watch below: Former boxer writes book about life as a professional in the sport
James Beech Jnr kept himself busy with routine four-rounder in Dudley
* Black Country sensation James Beech Jnr – edging ever closer to a British super-bantamweight showdown – kept busy with a routine four-rounder at The Venue, Dudley , on Black Country Boxing’s July 28, Sunday dinner show.
Such outings – simple ring-rust removers – are always potential banana skins. For Bloxwich’s Beech , a boxer cursed with fragile brows, such fights carry even greater risks.
He is blessed with sublime, textbook moves, but is beginning to cut with alarming regularity. Scar tissue, not a shortage of skill, may hinder his progress.
Against Bradford’s Jake Pollard, a featherweight who has lost all 10 contests, James suffered the now near-obligatory wound, this time over the right eye. He still registered a landslide points victory, his 10th in a row since turning pro – and that record already includes Midlands title success at super-feather. James relinquished the belt without defending.
It was not, however, vintage Beech, trainer Pete Hickenbottom admitted.
“He was a bit flat,” he said. “He won easy, but four-rounders don’t do him any good. I’d like to see him in any away day, big show against someone beatable. It’s motivation for Jim.”
That certainly worked for Shaun Cooper, who trains with Beech at Great Wyrley.
In May, he took on heavy-handed Boy Jones at days’ notice and won the Stevenage 10-rounder on points.
Hickenbottom added: “The cuts are something we’ll have to live with. You’ve just got to deal with it. Every cut now is a fresh cut, which I don’t get. It’s one of those things, he just has weak skin.”
And let’s not forget many bleeders have made it to the top – Alan Minter, Billy Schwer, Vito Antuofermo. Not forgetting, Henry Cooper.
Hickenbottom laughed: “Tell you what, I’m rapidly becoming the best cutsman in Britain.”
He’s certainly getting a lot of practice.
Big Fight Diary
September 7, Villa Park, Birmingham : Shaun Cooper v Jack O’Keeffe, vacant Midlands lightweight title
September 7, Banks’s Stadium, Walsall : Sean Davis v Lee Glover, vacant Midlands feather title
September 14, Cologne: Andrew Robinson v Denis Radovan (champ), IBF European middleweight title
September 27, York Hall, Bethnal Green: Brad Foster (champ) v Lucien Reid, British super-bantamweight title
September 27, York Hall, Bethnal Green: Shakan Pitters v Dec Spelman (champ), English light-heavyweight title
September 29, Hermitage Leisure Centre, Whitwick: Kane Baker v Myron Mills, vacant English lightweight title