Matt Maher: A savage fight as ‘throwback’ Sam goes to war

Sam Eggington’s war (fight feels too soft a word) with Bilel Jkitou last Friday was boxing in its purest form.

Eggington victorious
Eggington victorious

For 12 rounds, the two middleweights stood toe-to-toe, throwing punch after punch. It was a thrilling, albeit exhausting watch.

By the end, Stourbridge’s Eggington, his face bloodied and swollen, had emerged the deserved victor over his French opponent.

In addition to retaining his WBC silver belt, the 27-year-old delivered another reminder of why, despite a career which has featured its share of downs as well as ups, he remains such a popular fighter, one capable of headlining a TV card. “Sam is a throwback to a time of real fighting men and has been seriously overlooked by the mainstream broadcasters and media,” said Mick Hennessey, Eggington’s promoter and a man tasked with plotting out the path to a potential world title shot.

There is little danger anyone who watched last week’s fight won’t be tuning into the next one. Through 12 rounds, Eggington threw an astonishing 1,317 punches. The flip side to that statistic, at least when assessing his future, is that none of the shots which landed sent Jkitou to the canvas.

One might also argue while the fight was the starkest example yet of Eggington’s huge heart, it also demonstrated his biggest weakness. Namely, an inability to avoid being drawn into a brawl. Opponents with heavier hands than Jkitou can and have in the past exploited such gung-ho tactics. Still, this was Eggington’s third win on the spin and such is his spirit it would be a brave man to bet against him bull-dozing his way to that coveted world title bout.

These are exciting times for Midlands boxing. Brad Foster and Lennox Clarke currently hold the British titles at super-bantamweight and middleweight respectively, while highly-touted heavyweight Solomon Dacres has his third professional fight next month.

Next year, meanwhile, will see Olympic silver medallist Ben Whittaker turn over to the pro ranks. For a region which has traditionally struggled to punch its weight, at least when compared to London and the north-west, the future has the chance to be rather special.

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