Boxing


Interview With Heavyweight Contender Matt Skelton

skelton15.05.07 - By James Slater: Forty year old Commonwealth heavyweight champion Matt Skelton faces a man he has already beaten on Saturday, May 26th. Michael Sprott is the man big Matt KOíd in the twelfth and final round of a fight back in April of 2004. Sprott, however, claims to have improved immeasurably since and his recent destruction of Olympic gold medallist Audley Harrison certainly made it look as though he has done. Yet Matt, too, feels he has improved since his win over Michael, a victory that came in Skeltonís thirteenth fight. Now, with Matt, 20-1 (18) defending his commonwealth belt, the two men meet again in London in a little over a weekís time.

Currently in training for the fight, Matt very kindly gave this writer some of his time for an over the phone interview. Here is what the big man had to say.

James Slater: Firstly, Matt, how are preparations going for the fight on the 26th?

Matt Skelton: Itís going really well. Everything is going according to plan, touch wood, and Iím just looking forward to the fight now.

J.S: Is the hand one hundred percent now, or are there still any problems with it?

M.S: None whatsoever. I injured it a long time ago and itís healed completely now. The hand is fine now.

J.S: You have been out of action for ten months, do you see any potential problems with ring rust in the fight?

M.S: No. Sparringís been real heavy and intense, Iíve done a lot of rounds and my fitness level is up. Actually, the rest out of the ring might have done me some good. I was being very active, so the rest might have helped me.

J.S: Have you been sparring with anyone in particular?

M.S: No, not really. The usual team of European fighters have been helping me. Iíve worked with them before and kept in contact with them. Theyíre always fit and they always push me to the limit.

J.S: Iíve spoken with Michael Sprott and he says your main strength is your physical strength. What do you think his main strength is?

M.S: His experience is his strength. Heís a good all rounder and is very professional.

J.S: Was the first fight with him, which you won in the final round by a stoppage, a tough fight?

M.S: It was a tough fight, in that it was only my thirteenth fight. Heíd had loads more fights than me, heíd been in with the likes of Danny [Williams] and heíd fought in Germany and things like that. So he had experience over me then. I was raw then, but Iíve improved since.

J.S: Sprott looked great against Audley Harrison in his last fight and says heís improved immensely since he fought you. Do you think he has?

M.S: Letís not forget that he was down early in that fight himself. Then Audley kind of walked onto that left in the third. Michaelís a good fighter and I donít want to downgrade him at any time, but he watched tapes of Harrison and heíd worked on that shot. Heíd also sparred with him in the past. Really, to say heís improved a hell of a lot after those three rounds,
I canít really comment. He should have improved since our last fight due to the number of fights heís had since. I hope heís improved, as I have, that way it should be an exciting fight.

J.S: Assuming you win, what next?

M.S: I would love a world title fight. I donít want to tempt fate, but Iíd really like the opportunity. At the moment though, Iím so focused on this fight. A world title shot would be down to the promoters though, and hopefully they will be able to set something up. I have faith in Frank Warren and I believe most of the current champions are beatable. If the opportunity arose I would be going in there not just to fight for a world title, but to win it. Iíve got this fight first, and then hopefully bigger and better things will happen for me.

J.S: Who do you think is the best of the current belt holders, Wladimir Klitschko?

M.S: Yeah, he is. Vitaliís coming back though, and I always though he was the most dominant after his fight with [Lennox] Lewis. But Wladimir, yeah, he fights cautiously at times, but he gets the job done. Heís somewhat basic, but heís very strong with the basics. Heís consistent.

J.S: Do you think youíre at your peak now, at age forty?

M.S: If you live the life, like I do, you donít put weight on between fights. I donít smoke or drink and all thatís to my benefit. I donít just train for a fight, Iím always in good condition. My age really isnít an issue. I started boxing late in life, even the K1 fighting, I was twenty-one when I started. Iíve not had any real hard fights that have taken a lot out of me. Everybodyís different [with regards to peaking at a certain age] Tyson, for example, peaked in his early twenties. Itís different for everybody.

J.S: Itís been great speaking to you, Matt. For my final question, do you have any prediction for the fight on May 26th?

M.S: My prediction for the fight is Iíll be having my arm raised at the end. It doesnít matter if itís after twelve rounds, after six rounds, or after two rounds.

Article posted on 15.05.2007



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