Skelton: ‘I’m Alive and Kicking for Prizefighter’
Matt Skelton has vowed to make his experience count when he enters the Prizefighter Heavyweights IV at York Hall on Saturday 9 October – with Kickboxing his secret weapon.
At 43 years of age the Reading fighter is the oldest man on the bill in the 14th outing of Barry Hearn’s eight-man, one night tournament live on Sky Sports, but Skelton says he will draw on his experience from his successful Kickboxing career to cope with the stop-start frenetic paced night of action in East London – with only a limited number of tickets available for what promises to be an explosive night.
“It’s a bit of a different concept to what I am used to fighting in the last four or five years with the three rounds then the break,” said Skelton. “But I used to do that in Japan in a similar way with Kickboxing because there were a lot of tournaments that were like that, and even though it was a long while ago, I can still remember how to cope with that so I’ll be using that on the night.
“Training is going really well, been sparring great and preparation is going well comparatively speaking – You have to put your foot on the gas from the first bell in Prizefighter which is why it is so exciting to watch and I’m really looking forward to the night.”
Skelton returns to the a happy-hunting ground after he stopped a three fight losing streak with a comfortable fifth round knock-out of journeyman Lee Swaby at York Hall in July, having lost tough fights in Germany against Bulgaria’s hot prospect Kubrat Pulev (January) and undefeated Italian Francesco Pieneta (September 2009) and been knocked out by Martin Rogan in Birmingham in a failed defence of his Commonwealth title in February 2009.
A World title fight defeat and a European title win preceded those bouts and Skelton admits that following the hat-trick of defeats he was close to quitting, but that he has rediscovered his hunger and is ready to show that and bank the £32,000 winner’s cheque.
“After my last fight when I got knocked out in Germany, I made a conscious decision to call it a day and not fight anymore as I was a bit disillusioned with the way things were going,” said Skelton. It was really a chance meeting that started the possibility of me fighting again and I thought yeah, let’s give it a go. I am enjoying it, still loving the training and that’s the real challenge as there’s a danger you can lose that hunger and that’s when you can slacken off in the gym.
“I didn’t think the [Lee Swaby] fight was going to go ahead because I was meant to fighting Carl Baker but that fell through – then I was told Lee had taken it on the Tuesday of the fight so it was all a bit late notice, but I had to get back in the ring in order to do Prizefighter. I wouldn’t gauge my capabilities from that win though as if I hadn’t stopped him people would have said ‘Matt hasn’t got it anymore’ and when I did they just said ‘well you should’ but it was a good workout.”
Skelton is joined in the bottom half of the drawer by old foe Michael Sprott – a man he has defeated in their two previous meetings. Sprott has to see off Prizefighter Heavyweights III semi-finalist Danny Hughes in his quarter-final match while Skelton faces Hammersmith hitter Ali Adams in his opening bout – and while Skelton remained professional to say he was focused on Adams, he did allow the prospect of a mouth-watering clash with Sprott to cross his mind.
“We’ve fought twice before and he’s a very good opponent who will be coming into Prizefighter on the back of a good performance against Audley Harrison,” said Skelton. “He’s a very good fighter so he’s always going to be very dangerous on the night but I cannot think about anything other than my first fight against Adams. Obviously I want to progress through the rounds and lift the trophy and a meeting with Sprott would be a highlight of the night for sure. Our last fight wasn’t the best, the problem sometimes with fighting the same man twice is that you get to know each other too well and it’s not a nice fight for the fans to watch. But I know he will always comes to fight and should we both get to the semi-finals it will be a great match-up.”
The winner of Prizefighter Heavyweights IV will inevitably be linked to a big title shot after Harrison went from lifting the trophy to landing a World title fight with David Haye in November. And while Skelton says he’s not ready to call it a day just yet, he’s keeping his feet firmly on the ground when it comes to his future after Prizefighter.
“I really won’t allow myself to get too drawn into what could happen after Prizefighter as it is such a true cliché that you have to take the night one fight at a time on the night,” said Skelton. “I’m a realist though – Audley also has the fact that he’s an Olympian too which is a rare thing and he’s a big box office draw. When I fought over in Germany it was one of those things where it was very much under their terms and it wasn’t really in my favour at all – but when you get offered a title fight you have got to take it. In some ways I shouldn’t have taken the fight against Martin Rogan so soon, as there was a lot going on in my personal life and people close to me were telling me not to take the fight but I did. So I’m not looking long-term as my age is against but you have to remember that I only turned professional at 36 so I’ve got into the game very late in my life really – I will take it one fight at a time and while I am still enjoying it and can still get myself into the gym in the morning I will keep on going.”
VIP and Ringside tickets are sold-out for Prizefighter Heavyweights IV but there are a limited number of unreserved tickets available from Matchroom Sport which can be purchased by calling 01277 359900.