by James Slater - British heavyweight Matt Skelton, known as "The Bedford Bear," is a fighter I never thought I'd ever see KO'd. As physically strong as bull (or a bear!) and, back in his 2006/2008 "prime" also possessing a seriously sturdy chin to go with his immense strength, Skelton looked the quintessential 'immovable object.'
Article posted on 06.07.2010
Having turned to pro boxing late after having been a kick-boxer, the imposing 6'3" and approx 250-pound giant made remarkable progress in The Sweet Science despite being 35 at the time of his pro debut.. Taking on and defeating top and experienced guys like Julius Francis, Michael Sprott, Bob Mirovic, John McDermott and Danny Williams, Skelton won both the British and Commonwealth titles. Then, in early 2008, Matt challenged then WBA heavyweight ruler Ruslan Chagaev in Germany. Skelton lost on points (as he had done against "Brixton Bomber" Williams in their first meeting; avenging the loss with a later points victory of his own), but he acquitted himself well - especially considering the fact he'd had just 22 previous pro outings.
After that, as it turned out, career-high fight, things slowly went downhill for "The Bedford Bear." One more big win did follow - the one that saw him take the vacant European belt with his 9th-round retirement win over Paolo Vidoz in December of 2008 - but Matt has not won a fight since. And, as unthinkable as it was to me before it actually happened, he was to be stopped in all three of his post-Vidoz losses.
Put down and TKO'd in the amazing war with Northern Ireland's Martin Rogan, Skelton was stopped in the 11th-round, thus losing his Commonwealth title. Then, in consecutive bouts in Germany, Skelton was stopped, on his stool, after the 8th-round, by Francesco Pianeta and then KO'd in four-rounds by hot prospect Kubrat Pulev.
This January 2010 loss looked like the end for Skelton, but he is scheduled to return to action this coming Friday night. Steve Bunce, on his London radio show, mentioned last week that Skelton was set to come back, and now, Boxrec.com have the 43-year-old down as facing another tough old campaigner, in Lee Swaby, this coming Friday. Scheduled for just six-rounds, Skelton-Swaby could, all things considered, go either way.
34-year-old Swaby, 25-26-2(11) and a southpaw, has been a pro since way back in 1997, and he has been in with all manner of fighters - some top names, some not. Most famous perhaps for stopping a then 3-0 Enzo Maccarinelli inside three-rounds back in 2000, Swaby has also met, and lost to: Owen Beck, Crawford Ashley, Mark Hobson, Marco Huck, Alexander Alexeev, Derek Chisora and Tyson Fury. Stopped just nine times in his 26 defeats, Swaby is (or was) as tough as they come. And that's the thing: how much has Swaby got left?
There is a big question mark next to Skelton when it comes to how much is left in the tank, and the same goes for the man he will face in his comeback bout on Friday in London. Swaby has not won in his last three, and neither has Skelton. Both guys want to see what they have left to offer - whilst also attempting to pick up a few more well deserved paydays - and their fight, which will make up part of the under-card to the Lenny Daws-Steve Williams British light-welterweight title fight, could well be an exciting as well as career-ending affair.
The loser will surely have nowhere to go after this fight, and both guys deserve a win. Unless we see a draw, however, one of these two nice guys will go home with yet another loss added to their record.