IGNORING a cut and increasingly swollen right eye, Birmingham’s Sam Eggington was forced to go the long, hard route before accounting for Frenchman Bilel Jkitou. A split decision victory coming his way at the conclusion of a bloody, bruising affair with close rounds aplenty.  

Needing to make up a little lost early ground, Sam threw caution to the wind. In the fourth there was a prolonged spell of trading in centre ring, and afterwards the pace seldom dropped with Eggington, for me anyway, just that little bit busier for the most part. Sam, hurt and slowed momentarily by a couple of lefts at the top of the eighth was closing the rounds strongly and that might just have been sufficient for him nick one or two of those really close rounds.

The pace in the see-saw later rounds showed no sign of lessening and the crowd were treated to a real battle as the finish loomed. Excellent stuff, unless of course you happen to be one of the two men taking the punches.  

Judges John Latham and Alexander Walter scored 117-112 and 117-111 respectively for Sam whilst Frenchman Christophe Fernandez saw a different fight altogether and had it 116-112 for Jkitou. BN had Sam two up at the finish.

Brummie welter Kaisee Benjamin banked another early win by knocking out Finland’s Jarkko Putkonen in the third of a scheduled 10. Shaun Messer completed his count at 1-09 after Kaisee, having softened the visitor up, had slammed home a cracker of a right to the body. Putkonen, on all fours, did his very best to rock to and fro and rid himself of the pain but was unable to do so and he never looked like beating the count.

Mr Messer was third man too in a 10 between local favourite River Wilson-Bent and Budapest’s Gabor Gorbics and at the conclusion of a particularly one-sided encounter scored 100-90. Wilson-Bent, in control throughout, cut off the ring and backed the Hungarian up and regularly upped the pace as the rounds entered their later stages. Gorbics, who finished nicked above the left eye, did reply intermittently with single shots for the most part but never with anything to trouble the unbeaten Coventry man.     

Well-supported Irish welterweight Stephen McKenna, having won all eight previous contests early, was taken the distance for the first time by durable and always game Frenchman Moussa Gary. Stephen, who mixed things up nicely but targeted the body to a large extent, probably learned more in six rounds against an opponent who simply refused to wilt, than he had in all of those previous quickies. Referee Mr Messer scored 60-54. 

Another Irishman, Brett McGinty needed only two-and-a-half rounds of a scheduled four to bank his third paid victory with Sofia’s Teodor Nikolov, backpedalling at a rate of knots from the start, finding himself well out of his depth. Two rounds to the good, Brett duly floored the Bulgarian three times in quick succession, the third such instance prompting the intervention of referee Chris Dean with 77 seconds of the session gone.

If McGinty’s victory had been a swift one that of Michael Hennessy Jnr over Latvian Maksims Dembovskis was even quicker being done and dusted inside 135 seconds and in that short space of time the woeful visitor was also down three times but unlike Nikolov he stayed down on the final occasion after being dropped by a right cross. Again Mr Dean was the referee.

Birmingham’s Shakan Pitters, who towered over Amsterdam based Ugandan Farouk Daku, cruised to an 80-70 win. So dominant was Pitters that viewing in the later stages became a little uncomfortable. One wondered if his corner might be merciful and pull him out. A stoppage could have come when he was sent to the canvas by a right in a neutral corner in the penultimate session but he boxed on offering a big heart but little else.  

Brighton heavyweight Tommy Welch was taken the distance for the first time by Spaniard Alvaro Terrero who took several clubbing hooks without ever really looking like wilting before enjoying a modicum of success in the last as the pace dropped. Referee Mr Messer tallied 40-36.

A bout slated for six but ending after just one saw Brixton’s Isaac Chamberlain put paid to the hopes of Bolton’s busy Ben Thomas who, dropped heavily by a left hook as the bell sounded, failed to come out for the second round. Referee Mr Dean officiated, as was the case in a one-sided six between Ireland’s unbeaten Aaron McKenna and gutsy Croatian Ivica Gogosevic which finished 60-52, the man from Split being dropped twice in the closing moments.

The Verdict Yet another hard but thrilling night at the office for Eggington.