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  • Writer's pictureDexter Hastings

Jon Pegg talks to the Column

The Birmingham Boxing Column went to Birmingham’s Eastside boxing gym to have a chat with boxing coach, manager, and guru Jon Pegg about some of the fighters he manages especially the ones that have been active recently. We started by talking about being in lockdown and doing nothing to being busy as hell when the restrictions where lifted. Jon said “yeah its been really busy, the good thing is we have lads that are willing to take proper fights, so our lads are busy so it's not a shock to the system for them because they have always done it. Also obviously my work with Mick Hennessy has blossomed and Mick loves the Midlands and wants to bring a lot of shows here”. Jon continued “I have known Mick for a long time and I’m matchmaking for him now, he is putting our lads on, he is liking what he is seeing and we are getting regular TV spots for the lads that have earned them. From where we have come from with the pandemic to suddenly be looking at terrestrial TV in the Midlands, it's crazy the jump that’s happened but that’s boxing, I always say to people enjoy the ups because the downs will come but don’t worry because the ups will always come back as long as your doing a good job and stick at it. That’s Boxing”.

We started by talking about “The Savage" Sam Eggington and his cracking fight on the Matchroom show Fight Camp against Ted Cheeseman. I started by telling Jon what a great fight it was, Jon then said “yeah it was a great fight but once again Sam gets punished by his own success, it's fairly obvious now people scream out for Sam Eggington to show something different in his boxing, they are always saying he is too aggressive, his defense is no good. Now in that fight Sam showed great defense and showed a bit of maturity and literally unless Sam is going slam-bang crazy they don't give him around”. Jon Continued “in that fight two of the judges gave him 4 rounds, they give him no credit what so ever for boxing. If some one else use there jab like the way Shakan did in his title fight they say man he's boxing great but if Sam does the same thing is like oh his not ‘the Savage’ don’t give him around. He gets no credit for his boxing which is a shame". I then told Jon that I had scored the fight a draw but also said that I didn’t think Cheeseman had done enough to win Sam's title. Jon then said, “well he had defiantly not done enough to be going into the final round 4 rounds up which is how some of the judges had it which is ridiculous”.

I then asked Jon, was there going to be a rematch as it was such a great fight? Jon told me “Eddie Hearn told me, oh they don’t fancy it until next year, I think that tells you a lot. If you are really comfortable with your win and you felt like you have done a good job, you would be saying rematch great let’s get it on. The fact that he doesn’t want a rematch tells its own story, it tells you what they really feel deep down. Eddie Hearn has said it won’t happen until next year that means it's not going to happen, when you put a fight off for six to nine-month that’s your way of saying stuff will happen in the meantime, it's not going to happen. Why would you not want a fight of the year rematch on one of your shows unless the other side had said no way".

The next fighter we talked about was the newly crowned British Light Heavyweight champ Shakan Pitters. I told Jon in my opinion it was a near-perfect performance by Shakan and if someone like Mayweather had done it people would be raving about it. Jon replied with “this is the point people talk about master classes when someone is established when they are not established they say it could have been a bit more exciting, no it couldn’t be more exciting because Shak didn’t allow it to be. Shak won almost every round and didn’t go through his gears, honestly, he didn’t get out of second gear because he didn’t have to and that night we just wanted to take home the belt. Chad was ready to be taken out in the 11th but his a strong man a tough guy so why give him the chance when he’s got no chance. I said in an interview before the fight and people kind of scoffed at it, I said with no disrespect to Chad because he's a good fighter, if Shak turns up on form he can’t win he hasn’t got the tools to beat what Shak’s got. I said this is Shak’s fight to lose and a lot of people thought I was talking rubbish but I think that’s shown that because Shak turned up on form there was nothing Chad could do to beat him. I also think that now Shak has got a 12 rounder under his belt and the British title his confidence is going to grow and that will show in his next fight".

We then went on to Shak's first defense which is going to be live on channel five on the Hennessy sports show on the 14th November where Shakan will take on the mandatory challenger Craig Richards. I said to Jon that I could not see anything but a Shakan Pitters victory and if I was being truthful couldn’t see many of the light Heavyweight’s being able to deal with what Shak has in his toolbox. Jon seemed to agree with this and said “you got to go to world level before you have to start to think, well that could be a problem or we got to work out that. Outside of world level, I can't see anyone who can cope with what he has got, you know if they stand off him they are going to get pinged with the jab get caught with a long right hand, and lose every round. If they try and steam in, and the thing is that people say why don’t they try and get on top of him but what they don’t realize is that Shak hits a lot harder than what it looks, there’s a reason why a strong tough man like Chad didn’t just swarm forward its because Shak hits much harder than it looks. So the reason why people don’t just swarm forward again Shak is that it isn’t as easy as it looks and you also take a lot more punishment, I think Craig Richards is going to realize that Shak’s got a lot more to his game than what he thinks and on the night I see Shak doing a similar job to what he did to Chad Sugden”.

I then asked Jon was the plan to defend the British title and win it outright? Jon said “yeah that is the plan, the only thing Shak slightly lacks is a bit of experience and rounds under his belt. If he can defend the British three times that’s 3 twelve rounder’s, by the time he has done them I think he will be ready, but at the moment he is not quite ready to step up to world-class because he has been dominant in his 10 and 12 rounder. He’s just not quite ready for that step up, skill-wise he is but experience-wise his not but if he can defend the British title 3 times then we'll be able to say right let’s take a look at a European or a world title eliminator”. Jon finished by say this about Shakan's journey he said “to win the Lonsdale belt outright is a great ambition and if you can do that and get the experience you need to take you to the next level your killing two birds with one stone. So that’s what we are looking at beating Richards getting two volunteers in quick succession on channel five with Hennessy sports then go on to hopefully winning world titles.

The next boxer we talked about was the newly crowned super lightweight Midlands area champion Ben Fields. Givenbthe nickname the ‘0-Taker’ by the column due to all the unbeaten fighters he has beaten his story and journey to his first title is straight out of a Hollywood script. Ben is a former drug addict who spent some time at her majesties pleasure in prison before finding his way into a boxing gym and meeting his trainer and mentor Shaun Cogan. Ben spent 2 years in the unlicensed game before turning over to the pros just to go on the road as a journeyman but no one told Ben he was not supposed to win.

When asked about Ben Jon said “Ben Fields is an inspiration its as simple as that, he is turning heads all over the place, not just on his ability, not just on his title-winning but on what he has done, what he has overcome and what he has achieved. His will to win is inspirational, people who watch him can’t believe his will to win, Ben is just an inspiration, he’s a nice guy he deserves what he is getting and is going out and earning it, he's not waiting for it to come. I told his trainer Shaun Cogan after Ben had, had 3 or 4 fights that he could be his diamond in the rough, I just saw something in Ben that made me think that”.

We then talked about Ben's title fight and I said what a great performance it was by Ben and that in my opinion, it didn’t matter what Alex Fearon turned up Ben was not going to be denied. Jon replied by saying “The only way Alex Fearon was winning that day was by knocking Ben out cold that was the only way he could have won and with no disrespect he didn’t have it in his armory to knock Ben out cold. On that day at Midlands level, Ben would have been a handful for anyone”.

I then asked Jon what was next for the 0-Taker? Jon said “it may be a defense against Fearon, they have asked about it and I'm happy to do it as Ben wants to fight and it will be behind closed doors so he can get on quicker but as I’ve always said to Ben stay ready when a fight comes be ready to go and I think he will be. Ben's glowing at the moment being a genuine champion so that’s going to take him up a level its exciting times, Ben's already done his ambition being a champion whatever we do now is a bounce and a bit of fun, so its a nice place to be in as a manager as the coach and as the boxer".

We then went on to chat about Kaisee Benjamin and if his fight with Conah Walker was still on and if so when? Jon said, “yes, Kaisee will be fighting Conah Walker on the 14th November on the Hennessy Sports show for the welterweight Midlands title". When asked if Kaisee was OK after pulling out of the original fight with illness Jon said “yeah he is, but do you know what, we have made the mistake before, we did it with Sam where we allowed a boxer to say they were OK when they are not OK and lost a fight because of it. Kasiee wasn’t right against Danny Ball but didn’t tell us until afterward. It wasn’t something major but against a fighter as good as Danny Ball if you want to get a win you have got to be100 percent and he wasn’t 100 percent. After that me Soggy decided that the lads need to know that in hard fights like the one against Conah Walker would be if your, not 100 percent we are not taking it”. So we made the decision not to let Kaisee fight because if your not 100 percent against someone like Conah Walker you’ll be in trouble”. Both of us agreed that this was going to be a cracker and it that could be fought in a phone box.

We then talked about one of the Bbcolumn’s ‘Boxers to Watch' River Wilson-Bent and the news that he has been given a shot at the Light Middleweight Midlands area title. I asked Jon when River was likely to fight for the title and did they have an opponent yet? Jon said, “yeah it's looking like River will be fighting on the Hennessy show in December as they haven’t got any room on the November one". When I asked Jon did they have an opponent yet he told me “we are just waiting on fighters getting medicals done so I don’t want to say anything yet just in case it turns out wrong, but there is a couple of options so it should definitely happen". I then asked Jon as River has only had 7 fights and only 2 six rounder’s did he think River was ready for the step up? Jon replied, “yeah he is sparing well and it will be the same level of opponent but over 4 more rounds”. Jon continued “if the pandemic hadn’t of happened River would have probably had two more fights but it did, so if we step up now we will be in the same position we wanted to be by the end of the year”.

I then asked about another of his young fighters and another

Bbcolumn’s ‘Boxers to Watch' Lewis Coley Jon told me that Lewis should be out on the December Hennessy show on channel five. Jon did say about the 21-year-old unbeaten Super-Featherweight that he may even be able to make Feather or super Flyweight and at them weights the talented fighter would have similar advantages as Eggington and Pitters have at there respective weights.

Dexter's Thoughts

This write-up was meant to be a filmed interview for the Welcome to Fightden series but due to sound issues, I have chosen to do it as a write up as it would not have done the interview justice. It was great catching up with Jon as he has a wealth of knowledge about the boxing industry and manages 30 to 40 fighters from around Birmingham and beyond.

Jon seemed truly frustrated with the Eggington result and I honestly can’t blame him. Both fighters are signed to Matchroom so there shouldn’t have been any favoritism, but if you heard the commentary (as most of the judges could) you would not have thought so. It was a cracking fight and Cheeseman won the first half of it but Eggington came back strong in the final six rounds and on my card earned a draw. It will be a crying shame if there is not a rematch as the first fight was a cracker. Fingers crossed Cheeseman lives up the Mighty Millwall's motto ‘We Fear No Foes’ and defends his title against Sam, sooner rather than later.

Jon has got Shakan Pitters boxing future layout and if it goes to plan Shakan will be the proud owner of a Lonsdale belt and will be knocking on the world levels door in just over a years time. Pitters has got his first defense in just over a month's time against Craig Richards and I honestly can’t see anything but a Shakan Pitters victory. I am a big Shakan Pitters fan and it is going to be a very exciting time following his career as he starts his domination of the Light Heavyweight division.

There is not much more to say about Ben Fields, he is an inspirational character who has come from rock bottom to win a Midlands area title. Jon has said there may be a potential rematch against Alex Fearon and if there is I can not see there being any difference in the result. Ben's story and journey are amazing and a lot of credit has to go to his coach Shaun Cogan. Whatever Ben does now is a bonus and I can honestly see him doing so much more, I could see the ‘0-Taker’ fighting for at least a British title before he calls it a day. The Column will look forward to seeing where Ben's journey takes him next.

It's great to hear that the Kaisee Benjamin against Conah Walker fight is back on, Jon was spot on not to let Kaisee fight if he was not 100 percent. This fight is a 10 rounder for the Welterweight Midlands area title and will be featured on the November 14th Hennessy show live on channel five. This has the potential to be an absolute cracking fight and is a true 50/50 fight. This fight will be a great advert for boxing in Birmingham and the Black Country.

After only 7 professional fights Coventry’s River Wilson-Bent will get his first shot at a title when he contests for the vacant light Middleweight Midlands area title. I have watched all of River's fights and you can see he has got something special, I watched him spar before my interview with Jon and I have to say I was impressed. He is set to fight on the Hennessy Sports show in December and I think whoever he fights he will be the new champion.

Lewis Coley is just starting his pro career and from what I have seen he has got a bright future whatever weight his team chooses for him to fight at. He is set to fight on the December Hennessy show where the whole of the country will see the young fighters' talents.

I would just like to thank Jon Pegg for his time and for letting me come down to Eastside.


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