LIVE BOXING – Liam Cameron vs Nicky Jenman, FREE to watch LIVE on FREESPORTS

NICKY JENMAN gets up at 4am every morning, stumbles into his running gear, and pounds the streets of Brighton as the end of night clings to the seaside city. Five or so miles later he returns home, showers, and turns his attention to his full-time job as a scaffolder. He will make time to be a prizefighter again at the end of his working day, as he spends several hours in the gym, honing his craft.

This has been the 32-year-old’s existence for a long time now, juggling his fighting dreams with the necessities of life, of keeping a roof over his head and supporting his family. Jenman will tell you, and tell any young aspiring boxer who has been seduced by the big purses at the top of the sport, that earning a living can be a brutal struggle at the other end.

Tonight (April 27), though, on national free-to-air television, and in front of thousands of spectators at Sheffield Ice Arena, Jenman gets by far the biggest opportunity of his 20-10-1 (3) professional career to date, a chance to change his life, when he takes on Commonwealth middleweight champion Liam Cameron in a 12-round bout broadcast in the UK by FreeSports.

This surprise chance at something approaching the big time came after Danny Butler withdrew recently, and just three weeks after the Brightonian’s spirited effort against the heavily favoured Andrew Robinson resulted in a controversial unanimous points reverse over 10 rounds.

“I’m absolutely over the moon to get this opportunity,” said Jenman. “From my last fight against Robinson, which I thought I did enough to win, I didn’t think I’d be back in the mix. So, this is a really good opportunity for me to take.”

After the Robinson loss, Jenman even announced his intentions to become a journeyman, for want of a more respectful term, just to ensure his boxing career could at least bring in a regular income. This wasn’t the ideal route and, of course, it’s rarely the first choice for the many road warriors who dutifully take their place in the opposing corner of prospects and ticket-sellers, with winning a contest often secondary to ensuring their services are always in demand. But against Sheffield’s Cameron, 20-5 (8), while he will indeed be the away fighter, only winning will do.

“I’m fine about fighting in Sheffield,” Jenman exclaimed. “I’ve caused upsets away from home.  And sometimes it’s nice not to have the pressure [of fighting at home]. I’m the away fighter, they’re expecting me to lose but my attitude is that I’ve nothing to lose and lots to gain.  Don’t get me wrong, he’s a tough lad and a champion but I’m in the wrong game if I’m going to there to make up the numbers. I’ll put on a good show and want to cause the upset.”

Friday’s show is promoter Dennis Hobson’s latest offering to be broadcast by FreeSports, a bold but wholly sensible partnership that offers armchair fans the chance to watch live boxing the old-fashioned way – on their television sets without any need for sign-ups, subscription fees or complicated ordering systems.

WATCH from 9pm, LIVE and FREE on Friday April 27, on FREESPORTS (Freeview: 95, SKY: 424, Freesat: 252, TalkTalk: 95, BT TV: 95, tvplayer).

The channel was launched in September 2017, is available in 18m homes, and hopes to broadcast 1,000 live sporting events in its first year. In short, it’s a huge opportunity for Cameron and Jenman to impress, and for Hobson to continue to make strides in an exceptionally hard market.

Cameron, on the crest of a wave after impressively halting Sam Sheedy [watch below] in October on FreeSports to win the belt, is unquestionably the A-Side here, but Jenman’s rags-to-riches angle provides the potential for a Rocky-style fairytale. The withdrawal of Butler was a headache for the promoter, but in Jenman he believes he has found the perfect substitute.

“I’m sat in Tenerife thinking about my contacts and one of them is Jon Pegg, who manages Nicky Jenman. I’ve been following Nicky because he just lost to Robinson in controversial circumstances. I like Nicky’s attitude, he was one of the people we were looking at to fight Liam originally because he’s always in good fights, and if you’re not prepared physically and mentally then you’ll struggle against him.”

But Cameron, 27 years old, insists this will not be a struggle, promising that his pedigree – which saw him claim an ABA title back in 2009 – will be a shock to his unfancied opponent.

“It’s great that Jenman has stepped up,” he said. “I thank him for it, but I will absolutely break his heart to bits on fight night. I’m no [Andrew] Robinson and this, if it goes 12 rounds, will be the hardest fight of his life.

“I’ve never seen him box and I’m not really interested.  He’s been stopped by Tommy Langford and he’s lost 10 fights.  If I can’t be beating Jenman then, no disrespect, I’m going nowhere in boxing.  It doesn’t matter how hard he’s trained or how up for the fight he is; and if being ‘up’ for fights won you titles then I should already be world champion.”

NOTE: Jenman failed to make weight at yesterday’s weigh-in, coming in at 161lbs, so the title only on the line for Cameron. If Jenman wins, the title will be vacant and he will fight for the vacant championship in his next bout.

Undercard features: Craig Derbyshire vs Tommy Frank (Central Area super-flyweight title); Alex Dilmaghani vs Ramiro Blanco (IBF International featherweight title).

WATCH from 9pm, LIVE and FREE on Friday April 27, on FREESPORTS (Freeview: 95, SKY: 424, Freesat: 252, TalkTalk: 95, BT TV: 95, tvplayer).