By: Ste Rowen
On Saturday night at Liverpool’s M&S Bank Arena, former WBO junior-middleweight champion, Liam Smith returns to the ring for the first time since his 2018 attempt to regain that same world title. His opponent is Sam ‘Savage’ Eggington, a boxer who made his name at welterweight and has so far had an unsuccessful time at the weight class above.
Both fighters have fallen in and out of winning ways in their most recent bouts, and both have a point to prove; that they belong in contention at 154lb.
The two men have lost two of their last five bouts but the difference in the quality of opposition is blatant. In his previous five bouts ‘Beefy’ Smith, 26-2-1 (14KOs), has been defeated by Canelo Alvarez via a 9th round stoppage and dropped a decision to Jaime Munguia. But his victories, most notably include back-to-back wins over domestic rival, Liam Williams.
It’s a very different story for Eggington. ‘The Savage’, 24-5 (15KOs), lost a surprise split decision to Mohamed Mimoune, in Sam’s first defence of the WBU welterweight title. Two fights later, he came unstuck against Hassan Mwakinyo, 11-2 at the time, in a non-title bout at 154lb.
Unlike Saturday’s opponent, Eggington’s three victories in recent bouts aren’t exactly wins to shout home about either; Two stoppages and a 4-round decision win over opponents whose pro records combined, add up to 35-36-4 (20KOs).
But, speaking at the final press-conference on Thursday, Sam was well aware of his record compared to his opponent’s,
‘‘It don’t take a genius to know I’m the underdog in this fight. I quite like it like that. Nothing to lose everything to win. With having no pressure you can just enjoy your training much more.’’
Smith, fighting in Liverpool for the first time was just as humble when speaking,
‘‘Liverpool has so many good fighters, we don’t have enough of these big nights. Sam’s style and my style will always gel for a good fight, very competitive, but I feel I do everything better.’’
The headline bout tops a card that includes fellow Liverpudlians, heavyweight David Price up against the unbeaten Kash Ali, Tom Farrell vs. Phillip Bowes for the super-lightweight Commonwealth, and Robbie Davies Jr taking on Joe Hughes for the British and European super-lightweight straps.
But the most intriguing fight to look out for on the undercard will be…Anthony Fowler vs. Scott Fitzgerald.
It’s been heating up nicely in the past few weeks in a back-and-forth war of words on social media, and it boiled over at the press conference when domestic rivals, Anthony Fowler, 9-0 (8KOs) and Scott Fitzgerald, 12-0 (9KOs) went head-to-head.
And much like their Twitter personas, neither fighter was shy in coming forward. From ‘wet lettuce’ to ‘scared little boy’ to ‘geek’, the big talk went tit-for-tat with Scott speaking first,
‘‘Me and Tony both won medals within about half an hour of each other at the commonwealth so it’s gonna be a special fight…This is the first time I feel like I’ve tried. I’ve trained harder than anyone, ever. He’s delusional. A scammer.’’
Fowler, of Liverpool, responded with just as much venom,
‘‘You’re a scared little boy, son. Come Saturday night I’m gonna bounce my fist of your face…Look at me lad, I’m gonna punch your face in.
He’s done nothing in his life to worry me…I’m gonna jab his face off, make him overreach and I’m gonna punish him every time.’’
Both men won gold in the 2014 Commonwealth games when Fitzgerald fought at welterweight and Fowler up at middleweight. Both turning pro after the Glasgow games, it seemed inevitable that, after Scott decided to fight as a middle/junior-middleweight, that the two men would have to face each other before attempting to break the European scene. The WBA ‘International’ title will be on the line, but you suspect by the way the fight has built up that the two amateur standouts care a lot more about bragging rights that the belt on the line.