As Birmingham’ s Sam Eggington prepares to face Liam ‘Beefy’ Smith at Liverpool’s Echo Arena on 30th March, his loyal fans and supporters may be wondering how his recent return to the ring for a 4 round contest against Sam Omidi will have aided his preparation.
Fighting on the headline bout of Tommy Owens Promotions ‘Return of the Savage’ edition at Birmingham’s Villa Park, the hard boiled Stourbridge fighter grounded and pounded his way to, what looked like, a relatively straightforward (albeit hard fought) points win over an opponent who, ok, hasn’t been stopped since December 2017, but whose major game just didn’t appear on the night to be in the same league as Sam’s minor one – if the truth be told.
In fact, regarding Omidi’s great defensive record and his propensity to get through to the final bell of his fights – had this particular fight been over a longer distance Eggington may well have bucked that trend. He put Omidi through the ropes and onto his butt with a solid four punch combination towards the conclusion of the final round and although the slim framed Manchester based fighter managed to get back to his feet and to somehow see out the remaining seconds of the fight, he was seriously beginning to look like he’d been in one (a fight that is) by the time the final bell rang. In short, he was looking pretty banged up.
It was obviously a fight that Eggington couldn’t afford to lose, especially coming right after the devastating surprise loss last September to Tanzanian boxer Hassan Mwakinyo, an upset that had Eggington’s fan’s heads and much of the rest of the boxing world’s domes spinning in pretty much the same dizzying direction – and that threatened, if only momentarily, to derail his Title aspirations.
“I think he should probably have a couple more fights before the Smith fight.” one fan told me just a few minutes after watching Eggington’s performance against Omidi. I got the impression when we spoke further that any doubt that this fan had was not so much about any possible Eggington lackings but more to do with Smith’s glittering record and clearly substantial boxing prowess. And, considering what Smith brings to the table it is a dangerous fight for Eggington, there’s no doubt about that.
One thing that may go in Eggington’s favour is Smith’s lack of activity over the last 15 months. He fought just once during 2018, arguably the most crucial fight of his career – a UD WBO World Super Welterweight Title fight loss to Jaime Manguia in Las Vegas where Michael Buffer announced and Russell Mora refereed. Despite this blip he’ll still be bringing a ferocious record and some bone-crunching punch power to the table that simply can’t be ignored. Smith amassed 8 straight stoppage wins between December 2013 and June 2016, and amongst those stoppages were big names like Jason Welborn, John Thompson and Predrag Radosevic. So Eggington, whose sometimes hands-low boxing style can be a target for debate, will need to be well wary about taking unnecessary punches when he comes up against the dangerous and somewhat deadly Liverpool fighter.
I asked Eggington’s Trainer Jon Pegg how he felt the fight went and he had this to say;
“To be honest we just wanted to get into the bigger fights as Sam isn’t a small fight guy and (he) performs better when the underdog.
“But during the fight we realised it was essential that he got the rounds in to shake the rust and tension off. And obviously he had to win to be able to fight for a title so it was important in that way as-well.”
And what about the move from the 4 round contest he’s just fought to the potential of doing 12 rounds against Smith. How will this influence his training camp preparation?
“We have been preparing for the 12 rounder for the last four wks,” Pegg said, “We took this (fight) as part of the training camp, like an early spar but sharper and more serious. It was only last week that we changed anything from our usual camp.”
He added, “To be fair it means we are two pounds off weight 8 weeks out which makes a nice change.”
So, going back to the question of how the Omidi fight will have helped Eggington prepare for future fights. Well at the very least, every fighter needs good ring time – and this fight, albeit just a four round contest, will have served that purpose for Eggington. If he took nothing else from his victory he will at least have been able to take from it the fact that he was back in the ring, that he’d fought well and that he had emerged from the contest with a convincing win.
And what about the forthcoming Smith fight? I asked Pegg if they would be doing anything different to prepare for Smith as an opponent.
“Sam is a proactive fighter.” He told me before adding, “It’s all about him making his style work, reacting to the opponent and trying to work him out doesn’t really work if you’re a strong pressure fighter. We’ll be looking to do what we want to do and Liam will have to deal with that.
“All Sam’s best performances have been when he’s (been) meant to lose. All the way back it’s been the same. Johnny Garton, Dave Ryan, Denton Vassell, Shane Singleton, Glenn Foot, Frankie Gavin, Malignaggi were all favourites against him.
“When he was the favourite, Skeete, Mimoune, Mwakinyo etc, is where he’s not been at his brightest.”
And beyond his next fight? Any plans?
“No.” Pegg said. “We are just concentrating on Smith. It’s Sam’s hardest fight and we are thinking of nothing else. If we do the job a big fight will appear and Sam doesn’t care who’s in the other corner as long as it’s a big fight. He’ll turn down nobody as he’s proven so many times in the past.”
So. Without a doubt a most intriguing bout awaits come the end of March. And one of Midlands boxing’s brightest stars is about to take us on a journey that I’m pretty sure we’ll not forget too soon.
Welcome back Sam Eggington.