Skelton Ready to Put a Fright into the Heavyweight Division

25.02.05 - By Curtis McCormick: Undefeated British and Commonwealth Heavyweight Champion Matt Skelton has won all sixteen of his contests since turning pro in 2002 and the fearsome 250lb brawler looks forward to adding another trophy to his collection on Friday night as he meets Argentine strongman Fabio Moli for the vacant WBU crown.. Moli has prepared for this difficult challenge in a most unusual manner and his vitriolic comments have set the stage for what could be one of the most exciting heavyweight clashes on British soil in recent memory. Should the man from Bedford, England prevail against the well experienced Moli, a pairing with Mike Tyson conqueror Danny Williams is on the horizon with a crack at one of the four major world title belts a distinct possibility for later this year. While many outside of Britain are unfamiliar with Skelton, his co-managers Frank and Eugene Maloney are confident that will change in short order as the hyper aggressive heavyweight continues to climb the divisional ladder one brutal rung at a time.

Matt Skelton, 16-0 (15), started his professional boxing career two and a half years ago without a shred of amateur experience. He was also thirty five years old, not exactly the recipe for success in a sport where the competition is often made up of heavily decorated amateur success stories who happened to have grown up in a boxing gym. What Skelton did have going for him however, was the invaluable experience of having successfully competed among the world's most notorious practitioners of unarmed combat. "I was in Japan for about four years competing over there in kickboxing and K1," recalled Skelton. "I got into boxing accidentally. I was trying to improve my handspeed for K1 and then met up with a trainer named Kevin Sanders who took me to Eugene Maloney and we just took it from there."

At the time Maloney had been gaining attention in the London area by promoting highly competitive shows in small venues, building up his Maloney Promotions business at a grassroots level. After taking on Skelton he soon realized that he had something special in the former martial arts star. "Two years ago when Matt was 3-0 with no amateur experience, Dean Powell brought Danny Williams to my gym for a week's sparring," said the younger Maloney brother. "Danny got the better of Matt in the first round by out jabbing out boxing him. In the second Danny tried to throw a few bombs so I told Matt to go to work. He just growled and then started smashing Danny up. Matt can throw over 300 punches per round, just amazing for a man of his size. Dean cut the sparring short and afterward phoned me up and cancelled the rest of the week. That was two years ago and Matt has improved since then, believe me. I've got to bring in sparring partners from Russia, America, Romania just everywhere because no one in Britain can last more than a round with Matt."

Skelton's co-manager is none other than Frank Maloney, the man who guided Lennox Lewis to the undisputed heavyweight championship and currently works with WBO Featherweight titlist Scott Harrison among others. Having been in the fight game for decades, Frank has a keen appreciation for talent and knew right away of Skelton's true potential the first time he saw the 6 foot 3 embodiment of destructive force in action. "When people get in the ring with Matt, it's like watching someone go through a car accident," said the longtime British fight game fixture. "They are completely in shock and unprepared for the violence of his attacks upon them. I don't think that there's anyone in the game right now who can withstand what Matt does in the ring. He's going to surprise a lot of people by what he'll accomplish this year. Right now we have him fighting on Friday in London for the vacant WBU belt against Fabio Moli, who has been making a lot of noises. If Moli fights as well as he talks, we're going to be in for one hell of a heavyweight clash."

Fabio Moli comes into the contest with the undefeated Skelton with a record of 32-3 (19) and a decidedly checkered past. Having won South American, Argentine and various regional title belts at heavyweight, the thirty five year old got his chance at the big time in 2003 against a comebacking Wladimir Klitschko. Disaster ensued as Moli never made it through the initial round, falling prey to the former WBO champ's superior boxing skills before he could test the Ukrainian's suspect chin. Since then Moli has continued his winning ways, although against clearly less than stellar domestic competition.

Eugene Maloney sees the tourist's bark as far worse than his bite. "This geezer is talking a lot and apparently he's being handled by the same guy who brought over the Argentine kid who upset Michael Gomez recently," he said. "He's talking a great fight about how he's been beating up the bulls on his ranch but he'll find Matt Skelton a lot tougher than a fucking bull! Matt's camp, his sparring, just everything has gone terrific. He's so up for this fight mentally, I think it'll be a great tear up for two rounds, so I hope this man can fight because then it'll be exciting, but I'm confident Matt will knock him out."

Skelton's ring philosophy is simple in its execution but devastating in its effect. The thirty eight year old is ready for anything and while he is looking squarely at what's in front of him, there is an eye down the road for what he hope will be a continuation of his impressive success. "At the end of the day, I just want to get in there and get the job done," he said. "I just keep applying pressure and if I can avoid going the distance in a fight, that's all the better. I have gone the distance in one fight but I've also stopped one opponent in the 11th and one in the 12th round. My work rate is consistent and I keep coming on strong until the end of the fight no matter who's in there with me. Obviously I have to get this bout out of the way and then hopefully I can break onto the world stage. The British heavyweights who have been recognized recently are Danny Williams and Julius Francis because they fought Mike Tyson. No one can take that away from them and they got their names on the world stage because of it. I've been British and Commonwealth champion now for three defenses and my goal is to fight for one of the major world titles in the near future. Hopefully if things go right that's what were aiming for by the end of the year."

The Maloney's are counting on both Matt Skelton and his promoter Frank Warren to deliver in a big way this year. Should Skelton be given the opportunities, his backers are fully confident that the sky's the limit of what he can achieve in the sport. "I'm not trying to kid anyone, Matt isn't any kind of letter perfect boxer by a long shot, he's just a tough man," said Eugene Maloney. "I really enjoy being involved in his career. Against Michael Sprott and Bob Mirovic, I told him he had to stop both of them in the next round and that's exactly what he did. How many fighters in any class do you know who can come in between rounds and get told that during adverse circumstances and then go out and follow your instructions to the letter?

"People underestimate Matt Skelton, even in Britain, he's not been given the credit he's due. In his 8th pro fight he won the English title by knocking out Michael Holden, a former British and Commonwealth champion. He won the British title off of Michael Sprott, who had just won the title from Danny Williams, by knocking Sprott spark out in the 12th round. He knocked out Bob Mirovic in defense of his Commonwealth title and in his last British title defense, he knocked out Keith Long. With an uppercut, Matt lifted him straight off of the canvas. Nobody, not Danny Williams, not Dennis Bahktov, has ever knocked out Keith Long but Matt Skelton did it. Matt didn't get to 16-0 by fighting nobodies and his record hasn't been padded out.

"We know the WBU title isn't a major belt but he can't go anywhere with the British title because no one will fight him. This is a genuine business move for Matt's career, to get him up onto the world stage. If we were offered Vitali Klitschko as our next fight, we'd take it. We wouldn't be taking it as a payday; we'd be taking it to win the title. Believe me, we'd do a lot better job than Danny Williams. Matt would get in there and put some shots on Klitschko, it'd be a proper brawl."

Article posted on 25.02.2005

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