Ted Cheeseman won a dramatic unanimous decision against British light middleweight rival Sam Eggington as big-time boxing returned to the United Kingdom in a unique setting Saturday.
Seeking a solution to provide a spectacle while fans are still unable to attend sporting events in the UK because of to the coronavirus pandemic, Matchroom Boxing chief Eddie Hearn staged the first of four “Fight Camp” events in his childhood back garden.
The sprawling grounds of Matchroom’s headquarters — still home to Hearn’s father and company founder, Barry Hearn — were the backdrop for this taste of boxing in the COVID-19 age. The event was streamed live on DAZN.
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Neil Diamond’s hit “Sweet Caroline,” long established as the singalong anthem for British boxing’s signature nights, boomed into the Essex air along with an array of fireworks and pyrotechnics as Cheeseman and Eggington made their way to the ring.
Master of ceremonies David Diamante held nothing back during the introductory razzamatazz and the fighters followed suit, with backward steps a rarity during an all-action affair.
Cheeseman’s crisper boxing held sway early on — decisively so as he was given the nod 116-113 (twice) and 115-114 on the scorecards — and a booming counter right in the second had Eggington (28-7) in trouble.
But the Birmingham brawler, defending the IBF international belt he won by stunning home favorite Orlando Fiordigiglio in Florence last year, came on strong during the middle rounds, his probing jab and left hook leaving Cheeseman with a bloodied nose.
Cheeseman (16-2-1) staggered his foe once more in the eighth but Eggington showed incredible reserves in a toe-to-toe contest and looked close to the stoppage he needed during a thrilling Round 12.
But the Londoner fired back and held on to snap a three-fight winless streak.
On the undercard, former world-title challenger James Tennyson stopped Gavin Gwynne in six to win the vacant British lightweight title.
Next week’s Fight Camp is headlined by the WBC super featherweight clash between champion Terri Harper and 2012 Olympian Natasha Jonas, while the series concludes with the heavyweight showdown between Dillian Whyte and Alexander Povetkin on Aug. 22.