High-flying British welter boss Bradley Skeete claims few shared his vision that he’d advance to world level when he crashed the profession as a stringy, bashful 23 year old in 2010, writes Glynn Evans.
But with world rankings of four (WBO), six (IBF) and fourteen (WBC), the Penge punch picker knows that he’s within sniffing distance of the Holy Grail.
Beaten just once in 27 and having emphatically proved his supremacy over European boss Sam Eggington, ‘Super’ Skeete intends to sign off on the cherished Lord Lonsdale belt with a performance worthy of his world standing when he headlines against Welsh roughhouse Dale Evans at the Copper Box Arena on July 8th. BT Sport and BoxNation screen live.
‘When I first signed pro, few thought I’d do as well as I have. Even Al (Smith, his career long coach) didn’t think I’d be strong enough to get to world level. But I’ve trained my arse off,’ says the habitually cheery 29 year old who claimed the title by toying with Eggington for 12 rounds in March 2016.
‘I wasn’t one of those standout amateurs who won multiple ABAs or Commonwealth Games and went the Olympics. But I was always around the set up. I’ve a picture of myself with James DeGale, Tyson Fury and Billy Joe Saunders before an England v USA international. They all won world titles and I believe I’m up there with them. It’s just been a longer process.’
Southern Area champion in his tenth fight, the super skilled 6ft 1in stylist subsequently scooped up English, Commonwealth WBA Inter-Continental and WBO European belts. The showdown with Evans represents the fifth British title fight on a pro CV that already lists 176 rounds.
‘I’ve done it the right way, had all the right fights at the right times. Nothing rushed,’ stresses Skeete.
‘Other talented prospects got beat because they were slung in before they were ready. It’s been a slow process with one hiccup which I bounced straight back from. Now I’m leaps and bounds above (sole conqueror) Frankie Gavin.’
Alas, the Holy Trinity of Keith Thurman (WBC/WBA), Errol Spence (IBF) and Manny Pacquiao (WBO) represent just about the most formidable barrier to acquiring a global belt in any division.
‘I won’t make out I’m something I’m not. I know my level, where I’m at,’ says the refreshingly realistic south Londoner.
‘I was offered the Frankie Gavin fight a year before we actually fought but knocked it back because I knew I weren’t ready. Then, when we got in the ring, to this day I believe I beat him.
‘I’m in a similar place now. I’m world class so I’d be a fool to refuse a chance. Sometimes you have to roll the dice. But, ideally, I’m a year off a challenge to Spence or Thurman. With another year’s hard work and commitment, I’ll be good to go in 2018.
‘But Pacquiao is a different kettle of fish. With my WBO ranking and him doing a world tour, that’s the most possible….and most winnable.’
‘He’s much older, very near the end of his career and he’s TINY. I’m about six inches bigger. And he’s not had a stoppage win in almost eight years. We’re not talking the fresh young Pacman who used to cause hell. He’s a legend, there’s maximum respect but it’s possible I’d be getting him at the right time. We could have it either in London or Vegas.’
A similar spectacular demolition to the one delivered to Shayne Singleton (rsf5) in Brentwood just five weeks ago would certainly catapult Skeete several rungs closer to the crucial mandatory slot.
‘I’m training for the future rather than for Dale Evans,’ he concludes.
‘Domestically, I’ve already proven I’m better than everybody. I’ve world title dreams and if I can’t beat Dale Evans, I’m wasting my time.’
Elsewhere on the card Light-Heavyweight monster Anthony Yarde challenges Richard Baranyi for the WBO European belt; Darryll Williams and Jahmaine Smyle rematch for the English Super-Middleweight belt after their Fight of the Year contender in April; Sam McNess gets his first pro title shot against Southern Area Super-Welterweight Champion Asinia Byfield; undefeated Heavyweight Hughie Fury makes his eagerly-awaited return and teenage Heavyweight sensation Daniel Dubois takes on Julian Fernandez for the Vacant WBC World Youth Heavyweight strap.
Tickets for Skeete v Evans priced at £40, £50, £100, £150 and £250 are available from:
The Future Is Now Fight Week Schedule:
Wednesday July 5, 1pm start, Media Work Out, Peacock Gymnasium, 8-9 Caxton St N, London, E16 1JL.
Thursday July 6, midday for 12.30pm start, Final Press Conference, BT Sport Production Hub, off Waterden Road, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London, E20 3ZH.
Friday July 7, 2pm start, Official Weigh-in, BT Sport Production Hub, off Waterden Road, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London, E20 3ZH.