Over the next few years, ever improving British welterweight boss Bradley Skeete has aspirations to upgrade from star to superstar status, writes Glynn Evans.
Bettered just once in seven years and 27 fights – a contentious decision to Frankie Gavin – the highly skilled and increasingly spiteful six footer is world rated by three sanctioning bodies and dreams of emulating the likes of ‘Kid’ Lewis, John H.Stracey, Lloyd Honeyghan, Ricky Hatton, Amir Khan and Kell Brook as a British 147lb world champion.
On July 8th, ‘Super’ Skeete continues his quest by fronting a major London bill for the first time when he makes a third and he hopes final defence of his domestic strap against dangerous Carmarthen clouter Dale Evans at the Copper Box Arena. BT and BoxNation screen live.
‘With regard to profile and exposure, this is definitely the biggest night of my boxing life,’ says the likeable 29 year old.
‘I re-signed with Frank (Warren) on the understanding that I’d be starring on the big BT shows. I’ve wanted to be the headline act since I was a kid. I’m made for this. It’ll bring out my best.
‘There was a lot of love for my last performance (a fifth round stoppage of Colne’s Shayne Singleton) and there’s definitely an emphasis on me to sparkle again. Before my style was a bit negative but now I’m showing more authority, becoming more fan friendly. Al (Smith, his career long coach) don’t like it but I’m holding my feet more.
‘I want to leave everybody talking about me. Their last thought as they leave the arena. I want to show people I’m world class, ready for the world title.’
The brutal slaughter of Singleton occurred in Brentwood barely four weeks ago and Skeete is clearly keen to sustain his momentum.
‘Shayne wound me up at the weigh-in, telling me: ‘Your time’s up!’ I had to show him my time’s just started, show him he was in with a world class fighter,’ he recalls.
‘I was a bit stiff in the early rounds before I got into my flow but I was hardly getting beat up. Things changed very quickly. He hit the canvas in rounds three and four then I closed the show early in the fifth. I showed my doubters. Shayne was no mug. He was tough and had lost just one in 25.
‘I asked Frank to go again at The Copper Box but didn’t expect to get it so I’m very grateful. I’ve not boxed in London for ages so it’s great to give back to all my loyal support.
‘Five weeks prep will be plenty. It’s not as if I was in a 12 round brawl. I finished the Singleton fight with no injuries and no marks. After just three days off, I was back in the gym. I’m holding my weight great. I feel very fit and strong, really sharp and buzzing.’
‘The prospect of winning the Lonsdale Belt outright will keep me mentally fresh. It’s been my dream since I was a kid. I was speaking with Darren Barker recently and he really regrets not getting it outright. You can’t buy ‘em, they’re earned. This is the last rung and it’s been a long time coming.
‘The day after I beat Eggington I visited Dean Powell’s Memorial bench in Greenwich and I’ll be doing that again if I win the Lonsdale outright.’
Skeete stresses that the swift ‘turnaround’ between mandatory defences should not be perceived as disrespectful regarding the level of threat posed by his 13-3-2 opponent.
‘There’s no way I’m overlooking Dale,’ he insists.
‘Others mention Pacquiao but Dale Evans is my sole focus. If I balls this up, my world title dreams are f****d. I’ve not worked this hard for this long to mess it up.
‘Dale will want to win the British title as much as I want to win the Lonsdale Belt and he’s had plenty of notice.
‘His main thing is his strength and toughness. Plenty talk of his power but he’s only stopped four in eighteen so he’s no ‘Triple G’! If he thinks he’s going to blow me out, he’s making a big mistake. I’ll not be standing around for a trade off.
‘I could have a tear up but I never go into fights looking to get a knockout. I just want to put on a master class, a clinic.’