THE BIG INTERVIEW – BRADLEY SKEETE
By Richard Hubbard
Much as he treasures his prize possession, Bradley Skeete does acknowledge that his longing to win his Lonsdale belt outright has effectively stalled his progress in the welterweight division.
Skeete won the British title – along with the Commonwealth crown – in a resounding victory over Sam Eggington in Birmingham back in March 2016, but notching up the three defences required in a timely fashion has not proved a straightforward exercise.
In a sport dictated by levels and stepping stones, giving a permanent home to a Lonsdale belt doesn’t often fit into progressive career plans in this day and age. It can turn into an elongated process negotiating the defences, which must include a mandatory – just ask Tyrone Nurse!
Ryan Walsh got to keep his belt last week after seeing off the challenge of Marco McCullough and the process took roughly 20 months to complete, but would the Cromer man have returned to complete the job had he been successful in claiming the European title in October of last year?
He was the first to place a full residence order on the belt since Billy Joe Saunders in 2014 and he admitted ahead of his third defence that he would probably have moved on had his European venture paid dividends.
Nurse has hit a roadblock through no fault of his own. A title he believed would open up avenues when he won it in November 2015 has left him stuck at the lights due to the nominated mandatory challengers opting to take alternative routes.
Skeete knows the score, but he wants this belt. Badly. Even though he accepts he is currently being held hostage by the admirable ambition.
“Yes I am,” he conceded. “I could’ve vacated and moved on and been in some massive fights. They’ve been there, been offered, but I’m just not interested.
“My main interest, although there is not a right and a wrong way, is to go through the belts and I’ve done Southern Area, English, Commonwealth, British.
“The whole thing with the British title – and not many people do it now – is you win it and then try and win it outright. I look at that as the right thing to do.”
The 29-year-old makes his second – and mandatory – defence of his title against Shayne Singleton at the Brentwood Centre on Friday, live and exclusive on BoxNation.
It is a fight that should have taken place last year, but a change of dates and Singleton subsequently withdrawing injured after drawing an interim contest, resulted in Skeete making a maiden defence against John Thain in November.
The common consensus is that Skeete has proven himself to be above British level and should now be taking early strides towards the elite. It is a point of view the Penge puncher accepts but he is undeterred in his quest to collect a permanent souvenir from his domestic conquests.
“To be honest, looking at it now, I wouldn’t say it has affected my career, but it has definitely slowed me down and stalled me.
“I get comments all the time on social media asking what am I still doing at domestic level and so on, but me personally, I want to win it outright. It is holding me up, but it is one of those things.
“Once I’ve got it outright – and I will get it – the brakes are off and I’ll be flying.”
Skeete doesn’t go along with the school of thought that extending his stay on the homefront demonstrates a conservative nature in that it prevents him being rushed along into more meaningful fights he might, or might not, be ready for.
“No, not at all, I think I have proved I am ready and, although I haven’t had the big fights and big names yet, my experience over the 12 round distance is there and I am improving all the time in the gym.
“I’ve had words with Al (trainer Alan Smith from the iBox Gym in Bromley) and told him that as soon as we win this British title, there are some big fights out there for me. Where else is there for me to go? I think I am ready now.
“I’m not saying I want to take on a world champion straight away, but there are some good names out there hovering at world level who I can mix in with.
“It has to be the right ones. I’m not saying I will take easy fights because there are some good names I can take on.”
Round 2: Skeete on why he cannot wait to join the BT Sport and BoxNation party