Chagaev vs Skelton on Jan 19 in Germany

Matt Skelton will challenge for the WBA World Heavyweight title on January 19 as he aims to become the first British world champion in boxing's Blue Riband division since Lennox Lewis. Commonwealth champion Skelton will travel to Dusseldorf, Germany, to meet defending champion Ruslan Chagaev. It represents remarkable journey for Skelton, who turned professional in his late 30s with no amateur experience having previously been a Thai boxer in Japan..

Now 40, Skelton boasts a 21-1 (18) record and will go into the fight as the current Commonwealth champion and a former British and WBU belt holder.

His only defeat, against Danny Williams, was avenged, and he also boasts two wins over Michael Sprott.

Chagaev, 29, has also beaten Sprott, stopping him in the eighth round when the pair met in Germany in 2006.

Since then, the Uzbek has defeated Nikolay Valuev, the then WBA champion to lift the title.

Known as "White Tyson" and now based in Hamburg, Germany, southpaw Chagaev is 23-0-1 (17) and widely regarded as one of the best heavyweights in the world.

"This is fantastic news for Skelton and I'm delighted he has got his chance to become a world champion," said his promoter Frank Warren.

Skelton added: "I'll be training hard for this fight and I'm determined to lift that world title. My aim has always been to become a world champion, and I've every confidence that I will beat Chagaev."

Chagaev was ruled out of a fight with Sultan Ibragimov last year with an illness, but is now fighting fit.

"I'm healthy and can't wait to get back to boxing. It finally starts again," said Chagaev. "I can't wait to get back to the ring and I'm looking forward to fighting Matt Skelton in Dusseldorf. It will be a tough fight against a hard puncher.

"I have good memories about this town. In November 2006, I beat John Ruiz in a eliminator fight. And that made my title winning effort possible. I'm really excited about the Dusseldorf crowd."

Article posted on 06.12.2007

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