Few fighters are more honest, fearless and hard working than Bedford’s big bear Matt Skelton. We knew that before his fight with Ruslan Chagaev in Germany last weekend and though the contest represented Skelton’s first venture in to true world class, he further substantiated that repute. Sadly, he couldn’t add either the technique or knockout power required to prevail at this elite level.
He joins fine British heavies like Brian London, Richard Dunn and Danny Williams who challenged for the heavyweight title on the premise that heart and will could overcome glaring holes in their respective skill set. Whether, like other compatriot Frank Bruno he can return, emboldened by his brave effort to fight once more for the title remains to be seen. I suspect not, given Skelton is 40 next week and fights in a style unlikely to win friends or provide an easy voluntary defence for any of the other three champions. Though all would presume to beat the former kickboxer.
What I admire most is Skelton’s willingness to take short money to test himself at this level. Too often British fighters prefer to defend minor belts and fail to take the final step to discover their own ‘ceiling’ of performance. Irrespective of the success or failure Skelton enjoys or endures in the remainder of his career, and it seems he intends to continue, he will always look back on a challenge for the world title and know he gave that opportunity everything he had.
He just didn’t have enough. In fact, it is also a damning indictment of his more talented contemporaries like Michael Sprott, Audley Harrison and the much hyped Roman Greenberg that he reached this level before they did, or ever will, despite less pedigree and less natural ability.
If Audley had Skelton determination and dedication he may have been a decent fighter. But then if Matt had Audley’s hand speed…