A surprising strategy proves insufficient as Ted Cheeseman vs Scott Fitzgerald goes the way of the challenger
Scott Fitzgerald scored the biggest win of his career last time out, dropping and narrowly outscoring bitter rival Anthony Fowler. Since then, however, injuries had placed him on the shelf and unable to capitalise on momentum that had been hard to come by earlier in his career. The Commonwealth Games gold medallist came back in a big one, challenging Ted Cheeseman for the British super-welterweight title in the Newcastle Arena chief support. The champion had been busier in recent times but was without a victory in his last two fights, a clear European championship defeat to Sergio Garcia followed by a contentious draw versus Keiron Conway. These results were enacted against the backdrop of Bermondsey’s Cheeseman revealing his long-time battle with gambling addiction, entering recovery and seeing his first child born.
Both men looked in incredible shape at the weigh-in and so it proved over 12 absorbing rounds, the highlight of which was a surprising and highly effective strategy from Cheeseman’s team. It was a tense start, Cheeseman uncharacteristically mobile for much of the first few rounds. His lateral movement appeared sensible against the muscular Preston man, who looked huge but was a little ponderous. I gave Ted the first four sessions, as he confounded expectations by boxing and moving, frustrating Fitzgerald. He would get his shots off then, just as Fitzgerald got set to counter, move back or to the side. They were simple tactics, though largely at odds with his usual combative style.
Fitzgerald began to settle down and pick his shots better from the fifth, yet failed to show much urgency. The rounds were sufficiently close the Lancashire man may have felt he was ahead, but at the halfway point Scott was 5-1 down on my unofficial card. Cheeseman’s head movement and footwork were excellent, and the Londoner grew in confidence as the fight went on. Not only was this an ideal strategy to win the fight, if Ted were to persist with it, surely his career would be extended as a result.
I think most observers, and Fitzgerald, kept waiting for the mask to slip and Cheeseman to revert to the reckless aggressor we had grown used to seeing. It finally happened from the ninth as Fitzgerald made it a great deal harder in the final third, closing the distance more rapidly and landing to the body. He dominated the 10th and 11th against a tiring Cheeseman, who bled from the nose, but got his boxing back together to an extent in the last.
I had Cheeseman winning 7-4-1 in rounds or 116-113. The judges however tallied 116-113 (twice) and 115-113 for Fitzgerald.