Sam Eggington fights Abass Baraou for the vacant European title | Photo by Luke Walker/Getty Images

Sam Eggington fights Abass Baraou for the vacant European title on Friday.

“The hardest c— I have ever sparred in 22 years of fighting all over the world.”

These are the words of 32-year-old boxer and bare knuckle standout Tyler Goodjohn about his mate Sam Eggington, who is aiming to become a two-weight European champion on Friday night against Abass Baraou inside the Telford International Centre.

You can see how that opinion has been formed by “Tornado” Tyler. Sam Eggington, now in his 12th year as a pro, has amassed a disjointed 34-8 (20 KO) record ranging from welterweight to super middleweight, earning himself the moniker as one of Britain’s most loved, most unpredictable and most respected fighters on the circuit.

“I genuinely don’t get how I’m the underdog,” he told the Express newspaper. “I know he’s knocked some people out, but if I fought the same people I’d have the same record. Being the underdog and being told all the time that I’ve been here too long, or I’ve had too many fights — I just carry on. This is what gets me out of bed early.”

Eggington and Baraou will contest the vacant European title at 154 lbs, live on Channel 5 on Friday night in the UK and DAZN internationally. The “Savage” last held the European belt at welterweight in 2017 and has since fought 18 times, winning on 13 occasions. His patchy record and willingness to get hit often raises eyebrows in boxing circles, but Eggington is determined to shake that “novelty” tag now he has turned 30.

“People think I’m here as a gimmick now and I’ll have to start showing them that’s not the case. I’m here to do something and my last fight showed that. I want to push on from that and do the same this time. People don’t realise I didn’t turn professional when I was 25, I did it when I was 18. I’m in my prime with the experience I have, which a lot of people don’t get. Back on the TV as the underdog and I’m here to rip the script up and throw it back at them. That’s what I plan to do.”

Baraou (14-1, 9 KO) is 29 and will be fighting in the UK for the third time following a previous loss and victory. He has decent pedigree in an impressive amateur career — winning gold at the European Championships and bronze at the World Championships in 2017 — but Eggington is adamant that experience trumps all.

“To be honest, I don’t look at them or watch them, I don’t check their records,” he added when asked about his opponent. “I leave it down to the team and I watch 20 or 30 second clips randomly through camp, that’s it. I don’t get anything out of watching a lot of them, it’s not for me.

“I’ve fought plenty of quality amateurs who have turned pro, so it’s nothing new to me. I don’t believe he’s fought anyone who brings the same pressure or intensity as me. I think it’s hard to find if I’m honest.”

“I don’t want to be on the front page or anything like that, I just want to be active, and I thought my last performance granted me that,” Eggington said, following a fifth-round stoppage of Joe Pigford last May in Bournemouth.

“I’ve never bad-mouthed anyone. It’s a hard enough sport without having people getting in your face, I don’t need it,” he concluded. “I don’t need to prove myself that way, I do my job in the ring. And I will again on Friday.”

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