BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Ted Cheeseman is still set to defend his British super-welterweight title against Anthony Fitzgerland next – despite drawing with Kieron Conway on Friday night.
The Bermondsey fighter, 23, was looking to bounce back from losing a European title tilt to Sergio Garcia in February.
Cheeseman looked unfortunate to not get the verdict at Bethnal Green’s York Hall as he finished strongly but the judges were split. Terry O’Connor had him a 115-114 winner but Marcus McDonnell saw it the other way – 116-113 to the challenger from Northampton. Robert Williams scored it 114-114.
The real winner on the night was Conway, who only had three weeks notice but provided a stiff challenge to the South London champion.
Cheeseman, once again embroiled in a tough toe-to-toe exchange, was clearly unhappy with the verdict.
“I’m still champion but I’m gutted,” he said. “It would have done me a lot of good to get a good win, but it’s happened.”
Cheeseman is trained by Tony Sims and his son Charlie – also in the fight game – said: “It’s a disappointing result. I thought he won it clearly by four or five rounds. I try not to be biased with my fighters but that’s what I thought – and so did everyone at ringside as well.”
Cheeseman recently revealed how he had sought help for a gambling addiction after the Garcia fight.
Sims junior said: “People know his situation and what he has been through. That fight meant everything to him, he really wanted to win and look good. I really feel for him – it is a shame.
“He is extremely upset. I said to him in the changing room: ‘You’ve got to pick yourself up again. I know it has been tough and you’ve been rock-bottom at times. But you didn’t lose, you won the fight, even if not on the scorecards. You’re British champion and we move on.’
“We’ve got a bigger fight in Scott Fitzgerald. Ted has got to be strong, get his head right – he has got every chance.”
Crystal Palace’s Craig Richards won a unanimous point verdict over Andre Sterling, from New Cross, in an eliminator to box for the British light-heavyweight title.
Richards knocked Sterling down in the sixth and also had him in trouble in the 11th.
It is not clear if British champion Joshua Buatsi, from Croydon, will vacate the belt as he moves up in class.
Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn said: “It was a scrappy fight. Hats off to Andre Sterling because he looked out in the sixth round – but he stayed in there.
“We’ll see what Joshua Buatsi does next, whether he holds on to that British title or he moves on to world level.
“What’s pleasing for Craig is that in Belfast, six days before the Frank Buglioni fight – he had a decision whether to take that at short notice.
“He took it, lost that fight but since then he has changed his career path. I wouldn’t say he was going nowhere before that, but he didn’t have the profile. He proved a lot that night.
“It shows if you take your chances – even if you take an L [loss] then it is not the end of the world in this game.
“Now he stands here with a WBA international title and mandatory for the British light-heavyweight title.
“It’s hard because they are quite pally, and they are both in our stable.
“But if it is a big opportunity and a big payday for Craig, he will 100 per cent take the fight. And so will Buatsi.
“It’s more about what else is out there for Josh. The fight we’ve been looking at for a while is Sullivan Barrera. I know he lost to Jesse Hart, but he is a good fighter.
“That kind of solid name will give Buatsi rounds. He wants to win the British outright but you have to look at it and say: ‘Is that really an option? Are you going to have those defences?’ Probably not, it is not a particularly deep division domestically.”
PICTURES BY MARK ROBINSON/MATCHROOM BOXING