Hearn re­warded with grip­ping spec­ta­cle

 ‘Match­room Square Gar­den’ proved a strik­ing venue as box­ing’s re­turn fea­tured an en­gross­ing Cheese­man win

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport Boxing - By Gareth A Davies

The fights

Ted Cheese­man and Sam Eg­ging­ton pro­duced a re­lent­less see-saw­ing fight over 12 pul­sat­ing rounds in the main event to launch a spec­tac­u­lar open­ing night for Match­room Box­ing’s Fight Camp No1, as they fought over the lat­ter’s In­ter­na­tional Box­ing Fed­er­a­tion su­per­wel­ter­weight in­ter­na­tional belt.

It was a fight-of-the-year con­tender, won by Cheese­man on a unan­i­mous points ver­dict.

The back­drop to the fight was as com­pelling as the set­ting it­self. Cheese­man was con­tem­plat­ing re­tire­ment af­ter two de­feats and a draw go­ing into this fight, and the na­ture of the 24-year-old’s own dra­matic year – fight­ing an ad­dic­tion to gam­bling and be­com­ing a fa­ther for the first time – made the bru­tal meet­ing in the back-yard all the more com­pelling.

Cheese­man boxed clev­erly in the first half of the con­test, and gave ev­ery­thing in the late stages, as Eg­ging­ton surged back. But “Cheese” beat “Egg” on the cards 116-113, 116-113 and 115-114.

An emo­tional Cheese­man said: “I was con­fi­dent. There was no pres­sure with no crowd. I made mis­takes but I boxed re­ally well. If I lost tonight, I would have re­tired. I could cry my eyes out with hap­pi­ness. I’m a win­ner, I gave my heart to this sport and I felt that I de­served some luck last year, but I never got it. I lot of peo­ple doubted me, thought I would re­tire. But when it got tough, I gave my all.”

Pro­moter Ed­die Hearn plans now to se­cure a world-ti­tle fight for Cheese­man in the next year.

The four other fights on the card – matched as 50/50 con­tests – pro­duced vic­to­ries for Jor­dan Gill over Reece Bel­lotti in the first Match­room bout since Mar 7, heavy­weight Fabio Ward­ley, su­perlightwe­ight Dalton Smith, and James Ten­nyson, who won the va­cant Bri­tish light­weight ti­tle.

The at­mos­phere

It worked. No ap­plause, no crowd noise and en­hanced mi­cro­phones above the ring made the crack of the punches more au­di­ble, the work of the fighters, their grunts and breath­ing more tan­gi­ble, and the noise of their foot­work an overtly more vis­ceral ex­pe­ri­ence.

The si­lence of the 80 staff on the event site – there was no ap­plause, un­der in­struc­tion from Hearn – en­veloped every move of the 10 fighters in­volved, un­til the train­ers gave their in­struc­tions be­tween rounds.

How it looked

“Match­room Square Gar­den”, as it has been called, looked like the set of a Bond movie from the Sky Sports cam­era high above the canopy, with the man­sion lit in the back­ground. Oc­ca­sion­ally, the cam­eras panned to the moon, or the back­drop of the city of Lon­don on the hori­zon, and the soli­tary walk of the fighters from their chang­ing rooms down a black path­way, through the strobe-light box, gave it all a dra­matic edge. Hearn has in­vested £5mil­lion in this four-event ven­ture, and the open­ing salvo was a riv­et­ing suc­cess.

What is up next?

On Fri­day, part two of the four-part Match­room Box­ing Fight Camp will be head­lined by an all-Bri­tish women’s world-ti­tle fight. Terri Harper – who quit box­ing aged 16 to work in a chip shop, and who still stacks shelves in Tesco in her home­town of Don­caster when not in train­ing – de­fends the World Box­ing Coun­cil su­per-feath­er­weight world ti­tle against Liver­pool’s Natasha Jonas.

Uni­fi­ca­tion fights in the United States await the win­ner of Harper (10-0, un­de­feated) and Jonas (record 9-1). The 10 box­ers in­volved in Fight Camp No 2 go into the coron­avirus test­ing bub­ble to­day.

Gar­den party: Sam Eg­ging­ton (far left) and Ted Cheese­man trade blows in the IBF in­ter­na­tional su­per-wel­ter­weight ti­tle fight which Cheese­man won by a unan­i­mous points ver­dict; the arena at “Match­room Square Gar­den” (right), set up for the first of four lock­down events in the grounds of the man­sion in Brent­wood, Essex, which serves as the pro­moter’s HQ; in an event with­out spec­ta­tors and with all par­tic­i­pants re­main­ing in a biose­cure bub­ble, staff sani­tise the ring be­tween fights

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