Sam Eggington retained his WBC silver middleweight title, but had to dig deep to see off the tough, previously unbeaten Bilel Jkitou via split decision at the Coventry Skydome.
Eggington had already packed plenty of mileage into his career at just 27, while Jkitou came into the fight unbeaten in 16 and hungry for success.
Jkitou backed Eggington up early in the first round with a hard left hook, and worked well to the body in what was a bright start for the Frenchman, but Sam too had his successes in a tough to score opener. The fight was being contested at close quarters, and the second saw Jkitou land again with a hard left, and he pierced Eggington’s guard on more than one occasion. It was give and take stuff, and the fourth saw more close exchanges, and Jkitou pinning the champion in the corner, teeing off with short, sharp shots, and Eggington was nailed by another hard left that hurt him in a pulsating round.
‘The Savage’ tried to get on his jab in the fifth, but again found himself in a dogfight, trapped in the corner once more, and this time the Midlander managed to unload and fight his way out. Another bruising round in the sixth was a tough one to call, and the seventh saw the pair exchange meaty hooks, with Eggington’s busy workrate seemingly sapping the energy of Jkitou as he threw non-stop punches.
Jkitou found a second wind though, and he connected with some spiteful shots at the start of round eight that seemed to discomfort Eggington, but Sam continued to come forward, hardly taking a backward step. Eggington’s sheer workrate was banking him rounds, and his superb engine was again on show as the contest went into the championship rounds. It was more of the same tense action in the final three frames, with the two trading regularly, and to the final bell, much to the fan’s delight.
An absorbing encounter went to the scorecards, and one judge had it 116-112 in favour of Jkitou, with 117-111 and 117-112 verdicts ensuring Eggington kept his belt.
Stephen McKenna pushed hard to make it nine knockouts from as many fights, but he had to settle for a six round points win in the end over the tough Moussa Gary. He won every round for the referee in a 60-54 success.
Shakan Pitters banked eight rounds at light heavyweight, dropping Farouk Daku in the seventh round on the way to an 80-70 win on the referee’s scorecard.
Isaac Chamberlain continued on the comeback trail, and knocked down Ben Thomas before forcing his opponent to retire after a round.
Kaisee Benjamin notched a third round knockout win against Jarkko Putkonen at welterweight, while Coventry middleweight, River Wilson Bent, won every round of his ten rounder against late notice substitute, Gabor Gorbics. A 100-90 verdict was returned by referee Shaun Messer.
Tommy Welch moved to 5-0, as the heavyweight won all four rounds against Alvaro Terrero.
At super welterweight, Michael Hennessy Junior scored a first round knockout against Maksims Dembovskis, while at middleweight, Brett McGinty knocked out Teodor Nikolov in the third of their scheduled four rounder. Also at middleweight, Aaron McKenna knocked down Ivica Gogosevic twice in the sixth and final round on the way to a 60-52 win.