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Sam Eggington v Bilel Jkitou
Friday, 22:00
Live on Channel Five

Spotlight on Coventry

On Friday evening, professional boxing comes from the Skydome, Coventry, as terrestrial TV viewers are treated to a stacked card. Promoter Mick Hennessy for Hennessy Sports brings us a 10-fight programme headlined by the all-action Englishman Sam Eggington, who defends his WBC Silver middleweight title against Bilel Jkitou.

Savage is a big fan favourite, having been involved in some classics over the years. He won the belt in his last appearance and now aims to defend it and climb the rankings. Standing in his way is an unbeaten Frenchman who has his own dreams and aspirations of fighting one of the division’s top names, including Chris Eubank Jr.

Savage showing no sign of slowing down

Eggington’s story is one of the most famous and best-loved in British boxing. The puncher from the West Midlands turned professional in 2012 with limited background and the aim of making some extra cash as a journeyman. His name wasn’t big enough to sell the kind of ticket numbers needed to get on the top shows, but his all-action style meant fight fans took him to their hearts.

Almost a decade on, Sam boasts a strong professional record, detailing 30 wins against seven defeats. Eighteen of those victories have come by knockout, but he has been taken out twice inside the distance himself, stopped in two by Hassan Mwakinyo and five by Liam Smith. His most recent defeat was inflicted on points by Ted Cheeseman three starts ago, but the 27-year-old comes in on back-to-back wins.

The Betfair Sportsbook has Sam picked and the Englishman trades at 1.251/4 to win number 31. There’s more to get excited about in the method of victory with 2.01/1 about the KO/TKO while a second points win on the bounce is 3.211/5.

Frenchman comes with an unblemished record

Jkitou travels from his base in Nanterre, looking to cause an upset on British soil. The invader brings an unbeaten record consisting of 15 wins from as many contests with six by stoppage. He has a 40% KO average and will answer the bell in the form of his life, having stopped each of the last three men placed in front of them. Those early nights were all before the end of the eight-round, with his last two wins inside a couple of rounds.

Ranked number three in France and a lowly 83rd in the world, Bilel knows he will start as the underdog but is also aware of what an away win would do for his career. Not only would he collect a respected belt, but he would launch himself up the world rankings and secure some big paydays in the future, marketed as the man that upset the hard-hitting Eggington.

Will that happen? The betting doesn’t suggest so, and there’s 3.7511/4 for Jkitou to leave with the belt in his hand luggage. A third KO/TKO in three is 6.05/1, and that’s thought to be more likely than the points victory on foreign soil at 7.513/2.

Look closer at the challenger’s record

The unbeaten Frenchman’s record looks good at first glance, but it doesn’t quite stand up to scrutiny. The opponents he has stopped early in his two most recent bouts had a combined 32 losses, so this will be a huge leap up in class from what he is used to. This will also be his first visit to the UK, with most of his bouts in France.

Eggington seems like he has been around forever and has been in some tough scraps, but he is only 27 and there’s no reason he can’t have another crack at a major title, especially if he’s looked after by Hennessy, which he will be. Back Savage to take his opponent out in the middle rounds for a nice price.

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