Sam Eggington: A Modern Day Blood & Guts Fighter
By Stevie Adams
On Saturday night in Coventry, Sam Eggington – a modern day blood and guts hero – will make the walk to the prize ring for the 37th time in his nine year career.
The opponent is the veteran Carlos Molina. The prize is the WBC Silver middleweight title. This fight is likely to be a hard fought battle, one which is likely to go the distance.
In 50 paid bouts, the Mexican has never been stopped or knocked out. The only time one of his fights has ended before the final bell (except from when he has won by KO), was when he was disqualified against James Kirkland in 2012.
The 37-year-old former IBF Champion boasts notable wins over once quality operators like Kermit Cintron, Cory Spinks and Ishe Smith. He has also shared the spoils with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Erislandy Lara.
Whilst the British public will remember Molina for falling short against Josh Kelly, Abass Baraou and Souleymane Cissokho in the last few years, I must inform you that he has quietly gone on an eight fight winning run and will step in to the ring on Saturday night brimming with confidence.
“He (Molina) is a 15 year pro and former World Champ, so we have to be careful and switched on. I’m sure he’ll be able to cope with Sam’s power, but I don’t think he’ll be able to live with Sam’s pace, energy and thirst for a fight.” Said Pegg.
The team, of course, are extremely confident they’ll secure victory on Saturday night. But that doesn’t mean they’ve taken it easy in the gym.
Always diligent, Pegg refuses to overlook Molina and he insists Team Eggington have left no stone unturned in preparation.
“Sam’s attitude to training is always the same. Whether it’s Lewis van Poetch in a six rounder on a Steve Wood show, or Paulie Malignaggi as chief support on a Pay Per View show at the O2. Total dedication and determination. He doesn’t watch any footage of the opponents, he just leaves the team to study them and come up with a plan.”
On paper, it seems a fairly straightforward task for the ferocious and fearless Eggington. But nothing has ever been completely straightforward for his fans. They’ve been through the euphoria of watching their man hammer Frankie Gavin and they’ve suffered the agony of watching a skeletal figure which resembled him, slip to a decision loss to Mohamed Mimoune.
Whilst remembering that flat performance and the obvious hell he’d been through to make the weight, I cast my mind back to the first time I met Sam Eggington and his ever-present trainer, Jon Pegg.
Pale, gaunt and starving, the edgy welterweight breathed a sigh of relief and nodded at his Coach as the pair gratefully registered the 147 reading on the scales as they checked the battler’s weight one last time before the official weigh in.
“Is he OK?” I asked.
“Yeah, he’s fine. This is the best he’s done it.” Replied Pegg, with a wry smile. It was a harrowing job, making ten and a half stone. Nevertheless, he did it.
The then 21-year-old prospect took the experience in his stride, he rehydatred, ate good food, rested overnight and proceeded to pummel Shayne Singleton into submission, snatching the WBC International Silver title in the process.
The mental and physical torture of dragging his body to welterweight continued for a further two years. British, Commonwealth and European championship triumphs were the highlights of the welterweight days, including thrilling knockout wins over classy fighters such as the aforementioned Gavin, Paulie Malignaggi and Ceferino Rodriguez.
All good things must come to an end, though, and lethargic displays in defeats at the hands of fleet-footed dancers, Bradley Skeete and Mimoune respectively, finally convinced the weight drained warrior to up sticks and scarper to a safer and more comfortable home at super-welterweight.
The adoring fan base ‘The Savage’ has built over the years didn’t read too much into a shock defeat in September of 2018, when he was stopped in two rounds by Hassan Mwakinyo. Plainly speaking, Eggington was caught cold by the Tanzanian slugger. A blockbuster slugfest with Brandon Rios loomed and the all action Englishman may have committed the cardinal sin of overlooking a hungry underdog.
Some onlookers called for Eggington to walk away from the fight game at that point, with worries that his granite chin and indomitable will to win may have disappeared.
“I was pragmatic about it. I thought that he might be mentally burnt out after Mwakinyo and that would’ve been the time to get out. But the Liam Smith fight gave me what I needed to see to know the journey wasn’t finished and I was confident that Sam was ready to keep going.” Replied Pegg, when asked if he too thought his beloved student was finished after a shock reverse.
A brave showing against Smith – an assignment which few believed the face first, slugger could pass – proved that Eggington still had the fire in his belly. Outgunned and overmatched, the Stourbridge brawler gritted his teeth and gave every ounce of himself before being stopped in the fifth round with a grossly damaged eye.
Even in defeat, Eggington won the heart of the crowd.
“The journey has been old school. Losses have been learned from and we’ve kept our eyes on the ball and just made the best of what ever situation we’ve been in. I’ve always had faith that Sam would do well and achieve good things. And if he were to retire next week, he would’ve had an amazing career that nobody predicted and most said he wasn’t capable of.
“Indeed, I still hear people saying that he won’t have a long career fighting like that. Then they look puzzled when I inform them he’s already a nine year, 37 fight veteran at just 27-years-old and has had a longer, more successful career than 95 percent of pros that have gone before him.”
Whatever the future holds for the quiet and unassuming Savage, his body of work speaks for itself. Whether he is the favourite or the underdog, Sam Eggington always answers the call and he always makes the walk.