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Sam Eggington opens up on his incredible journey from teenage forklift driver to 'Britain's most exciting fighter' ahead of his bid to become a two-weight European champion

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There are very few fighters that guarantee value for money every time they step into the ring. Sam Eggington is in the minority.

When the Birmingham-born boxer is in action, fans know exactly what they are going to get. Over a 12-year professional career Eggington has never taken a backwards step, meeting his opponent in the centre of the ring and waging a toe-to-toe war until one man is no longer standing or the final bell rings.

His crowd-pleasing style earned him back-to-back fight of the year awards in 2020 and 2021 from the British Boxing Board of Control for his clashes with Ted Cheeseman and Bilel Jkitou, respectively.

Eggington lost on points to Cheeseman, before being on the right end of a razor-thin decision against Jkitou in two modern-day classics, leading to his trainer Jon Pegg hailing him as Britain’s most exciting fighter in 2022.

Four fights and two years later, Eggington is still worthy of that accolade.

Sam Eggington has become Britain's most exciting fighter, having previously been a forklift driver

Sam Eggington has become Britain’s most exciting fighter, having previously been a forklift driver

He always delivers value for money and has been involved in the fight of the year twice

He always delivers value for money and has been involved in the fight of the year twice 

He lost once of those fight of the year clashes against Ted Cheeseman (left), but it was a thrilling bout

He lost once of those fight of the year clashes against Ted Cheeseman (left), but it was a thrilling bout

The 30-year-old has become the ultimate entertainer inside the ring with his all-action style, and his rise to the top of the sport is all the more remarkable considering how his career started.

Eggington began his working life as a forklift driver to support his young family, and only got into boxing to earn some money on the side, without having any idea of how good he could be. 

‘I had my son at 17 and I was a forklift driver, and there were rumours that I was going to get made redundant, last in, first out, sort of thing,’ Eggington explained to Mail Sport.

‘And my mate at the time, Craig Cunningham, he was turning professional, and I heard this thing about journeymen. They box every week, they get paid every week, win, lose or draw. 

‘I was like “Craig, give your manager a ring, I’ll do that”, and that’s when it started. I won the Midlands Area title and then a few sponsors came in and I thought I could probably make this my job. 

‘As the sponsors came in, I put more into training which was giving me more confidence to say I’m going to be a champion instead of a journeyman. I was sparring good kids as well, and that didn’t resonate to me until my coach was telling me these things. So again, a few sponsors came in, I won the Area title and it snowballed from there.’

Having started with very modest ambitions, Eggington has since been involved in some huge fights, beating former two-weight world champion Paulie Malignaggi, and ex-amateur standout Frankie Gavin, while he won a version of the world title when he held the IBO super-welterweight strap two years ago.

Eggington has also lost eight times in his 42-fight career, leaving some wondering if the desire to entertain has sometimes been his undoing.

Eggington has some big wins on his record, including beating former two-weight world champion Paulie Malignaggi (left)

Eggington has some big wins on his record, including beating former two-weight world champion Paulie Malignaggi (left)

Eggington also briefly held the IBO super-welterweight title two years ago

Eggington also briefly held the IBO super-welterweight title two years ago

But Eggington is bemused by this suggestion, insisting that has never been the case and that he is simply sticking to the style that has always come naturally to him.

‘People think I just go in there and think “I’m just going to have a proper war today”. I don’t,’ he said.

‘If I could box like [Floyd] Mayweather, I would! It’s just normal to me. When I’m in the fight, no fight is harder than the last one. They are all hard. Obviously some catch eyes like the Jkitou fight, the Cheeseman fight, there have been a few others, but in the fight it just seems as hard as the last one. 

‘I don’t want everyone to scream and shout, it’s just the way I box, it’s just normal to me.’

Eggington won the European welterweight title in 2017 when he stopped Ceferino Rodriguez in 10 rounds, and he will get the chance to become a two-weight European champion when he challenges Abass Baraou for the super-welterweight belt on Friday.

He admits it would be a ‘huge achievement’ if he can claim victory at the International Centre in Telford, and is adamant he will be ready for whatever his opponent has to offer, having focused purely on his own gameplan for when the first bell rings.

Speaking about his pre-fight preparations, Eggington explained: ‘I don’t look at much of him or what he’s done. I leave that to the team to tell me what I should do off it. 

‘If he comes for a fire-fight then I’m all there for that. If he wants to box and move then I’ll negotiate that.’

Twelve years on from his debut and with over 40 fights already behind him, the word ‘retirement’ crops up a lot in conversations with Eggington nowadays, particularly given his tendency to rarely have an easy night’s work.

But the fighter himself has made it clear that he has no intention of hanging up his gloves any time soon, and he is determined to produce a statement win against Baraou to prove he is still a major force in the 154lb division.

Eggington has the chance to become a two-weight European champion on Friday as he looks to continue his remakrable rise

Eggington has the chance to become a two-weight European champion on Friday as he looks to continue his remakrable rise

Eggington has had 42 fights over his 12-year career, but insists he is not even contemplating retirement

Eggington has had 42 fights over his 12-year career, but insists he is not even contemplating retirement

‘It irritates me,’ Eggington admitted when asked whether retirement had crossed his mind. 

‘I’m 30, I’m in my prime. Yes, I’ve had a lot of fights, I’ve been here a lot of years, but any other 30-year-old, no one is asking about retiring. No one is asking how much they’ve got left. 

‘I just need people to have that perception of me that “Sam’s still here”. He has had a long career and people have enjoyed it, but he’s still here the same way he was when he was 25.’

Another knockout performance on Friday night would go some way to making his point.

Watch Abass Baraou vs Sam Eggington, for the European Super Welterweight title, live and free-to-air on Channel 5 on Friday, March 1 from 10pm