BN: Last year wasn’t the year you had hoped it would be, is that right?

SE: I was promised dates here and there and they fell through. Again, no fault of our own. Last year was a bit slow but we’ve started the New Year with the big fight news we’d been hoping for.

BN: How big is this European title fight against Abass Baraou for you and your career?

SE: I think it’s up there with the best of them. He’s a decent name, it’s a big title, we’re both ranked highly with the WBA and at this stage of my career this is the type of fight that I need. I can’t rebuild at this stage; I think that’s the major thing for me. I can’t go back to the drawing board and start again and try and get a few easy fights to then get bigger fights. I’m at the stage where it’s all or nothing at this point.

BN: Are you saying if you were to get beat then that would be it?

SE: I wouldn’t say that would be it, but it’d be a hard road back. You never know and I’ve said this a few times and every time a fight has then come up. I lost against the African kid [Hassan Mwakinyo] in Birmingham and I was like, “It’s a long road back” but then we got the Liam Smith fight. I lost against Smith, and I was like, “Now we’re really in a hard situation” and then the Italian job [against Orlando Fiordigiglio] come up. I won that. I do always say these things but it’s a pressure I bring on myself. I think subconsciously I put it there as well as taking the hardest fights and all that stuff. I do all of that mainly because it gets me out of bed, and I get the work done.

BN: And as for your opponent Abass Baraou do you know much about him?

SE: I never watch them. I’ve never watched him at random either. He’s never been on a card that I have watched. I’ll watch clips of him through camp on phones with the coaches and so forth, but I never sit there and watch an opponent.

BN: This will be the 43rd fight of your career, does it feel like you’ve had 42 fights?

SE: Everyone will say this because you’ve got to say it, but I feel better now than I ever have done. And not only do I feel better, but I enjoy it more. I enjoy the process more. It’s mad. I enjoy the training more. I train more now than I did when I was 20. I enjoy boxing more, I enjoy going to the gym more, I just enjoy it more now than I used to. I don’t know why that it is, it just is. And I feel better. Again, you ask any boxer and they’re gonna say the exact same thing because that’s what they have to say but I’d tell you if I felt like shit. I’ve no problem with that because it is what it is. But now I enjoy it all more, I love it. The making weight, the getting fit, the nervous energy… I love all this at the moment. It used to be a job and I just got it done because it was my job but now, I enjoy it more than I ever have.

BN: If you could give any advice to the Sam Eggington just starting out all those years ago what would you say?

SE: I’d say just take it all in. In the early days I won the Midlands [title], I was in Prizefighter, I signed with Matchroom, but I didn’t really know what I’d done. I’d go back and say take it in after a fight. Back then, 15 minutes after a fight, I’d be on my way home. I wouldn’t sit about, I wouldn’t celebrate, I wouldn’t go to a party afterwards or anything like that. I’d go home and go back to normal. I’d say take it in because you don’t realise until you’re older how fast it actually does go. Now I’m 30, one more loss and it’s a sticky situation. I’d go back and say sit back and enjoy it more.

BN: And physically are you still able to do everything you did back then?

SE: It’s another question where everyone’s going to lie to you again. I feel better now than I ever have and of course the coaches would tell you that as well because they’re my coaches. My numbers in the gym, my sparring, just how much I train in the gym has gone up massively compared to when I was younger. And that’s not because I need to and I’m getting older, it’s because I enjoy it. Physically, I’m in my prime anyway. The age of 28 to 32 is your prime and that’s how I feel. The only thing that has gone against me is I started early, and I got a few losses so I ain’t got the time to regroup, like I said. I feel great. I feel unbelievable.

BN: You’ve been involved in some fantastic but demanding bouts. You have an ability to take a lot of punishment before firing back. Where does that come from?

SE: I don’t know, it has to be somewhere. I don’t know if it’s from my mum’s side or my dad’s side, they’ll have to fight that out. I can’t explain it myself. It’s how I box, it’s the norm to me. There’s been a few fights where people have been going wild but, to me, they’re all hard fights. No fight is harder than the previous fight if that makes sense. When I fight and people say they want to watch that back, to me it’s like any other fight. When I’m in there it doesn’t feel any different. Maybe I need to be checked [laughs]. But honestly, it’s just the norm to me whether it’s biological or what. I suppose we’ll never know.

BN: What about the next day. Do you feel as though you’ve had a fight?

SE: I’ve felt the same after every one. I’ve never really woke up one morning and thought that one was harder because I feel like shit today. I’ve never felt like that. Obviously, my face might be a bit more busted up than the last one, or I might have a fatter eye or a fatter nose. I’ve never thought in my arms or legs, flipping hell that was a really tough night. They’ve all been as hard as the last. I feel the same after every one because no one puts me through a hard fight, I make the fight hard, if that makes sense. I’ve never had an opponent push me harder than the last opponent because I’m the one always pushing the fight. I think that’s what’s been in my favour. If I’ve chose to have an easy fight and then it’s been put on me and I have to go deep into the well, I think that would take a lot out of you. That’s why, when I fight, I’m the one putting it on the opponent because they’ve got to dig deep. Whether I win or lose they’ve still got to dig deep. I think that’s why I’ve lasted so long because no one’s punching it out of me, I’m taking it out of myself. I don’t know how to explain it. I make the fights hard. If I’ve worked hard in a fight, it’s because I’ve wanted to if that makes sense. No one’s pushed me and then I’ve thought I need to throw 100 punches this round just to make it through. I’ve just done that because that’s my way of boxing. I think if it weren’t my way of doing it – and others put me through it – then it would have taken a lot more out of me.

BN: So, for everything you have put into fights are you satisfied with what you got back outside the ring?

SE: From the start, yeah. I turned pro at random. I kinda fell into it, to be a journeyman, to provide for my son when I was 17. I needed some money after I got made redundant. I went to be a journeyman. The whole plan was to get a deposit for a house, that was it. And we’ve done that and then some. Of course, when I’ve been paid, I’ve wanted to be paid more, but the plan was always to get the deposit for the house. All this has been a bonus. I’ve obviously took it more seriously as the purses have got bigger but at the start this was just a job. I was happy to go out every weekend and lose because I got paid. I’m happy with where it’s got me. We’re comfortable, the kids have got everything they want. The other half gets what she needs. I’m just happy doing something I enjoy. Everything’s good. I couldn’t have asked for anything better. It was either this or working in a factory on a forklift.

BN: What’s life like for you outside of boxing? Is it all about spending time with your family?

SE: Yeah. I’ve got three kids now. My oldest is 13 in June. My youngest is 4. It’s a madhouse but it’s what I do it for.

BN: Have you thought about how you’d like to be remembered in boxing or what kind of legacy you’d like to leave behind?

SE: I’m not that much big into it. I’m not a huge boxing fan as it is. As long as the people in my house know I worked hard for what they’ve got, and they respect it, then I’m happy. In boxing everything you do someone will have a good or bad opinion about it. I’ve never ducked anyone. I’ve fought everyone I could. It wouldn’t bother me if I was remembered next week or not. Once I retire there’s always the next one. People that have done much more than me have been well forgotten.

BN: Do you think about what your life might look like after boxing?

SE: I don’t because as soon as you do you’ve got one leg out anyway. Boxing’s not a place to be if you’re half in and half out because then you’re in a bad place. I don’t think about it. If I think about it deeply, I’d probably think it’s time to retire. Once I’ve retired, I’ll get a job.