Boxing: Crude Skelton claims world title

Matt Skelton, who lost the Commonwealth heavyweight title, will now have to relinquish the British title but he won the World Boxing Union heavyweight championship at the Wembley Conference Centre last night.

Skelton, 38, started to box just two years ago after a career in the kung-fu arenas of Japan and last night was his 16th straight win and arguably one of his easiest.

Argentina's Fabio Moli held and ran during every second of the six rounds and eventually rescued himself after falling to the canvas for the third time in round six of yet another ugly heavyweight maul.

"People criticise the WBU belt and say it is not a proper world title but it means everything to me," said Skelton.

As soon as Moli signalled that he had finished for the night, Skelton's Commonwealth title became vacant and he now has a week or two to choose between the WBU, which is a sanctioning body that was formed above a flower shop in Bethnal Green and is now run from a bungalow in Norfolk, or the British heavyweight title. He will not be allowed to keep his British title if he opts for the WBU version.

However, what is certain in the increasingly uncertain world of boxing is that Skelton is a nice guy, a huge attraction and one of the crudest fighters in recent years.

Last night he relentlessly pursued the reluctant Moli and by using a variety of elbows, forearms, open-gloved pushes and unconventional right-handers, he was able to thoroughly break his opponent's spirit and heart. The fight was really over before it started but Skelton's fans loved every second of it.

If all goes to plan, the man from Bedford, who picked up his fighting skills in the tough gyms of Tokyo, will meet Danny Williams, who is the best British heavyweight, in June.

There have never been any excuses from Skelton or his management team for his lack of mobility inside the ring. He is, at more than 18 stone, an old-fashioned brawler and, in any fight against either an average or slightly better-than-average boxer, his determination and fitness certainly prove difficult to beat.

"Williams and Skelton will fight but first Williams needs a warm-up in April and then I will sort the money out for both of them," confirmed promoter Frank Warren.

When that happens, and hopefully it will, it will not be pleasing on the eye, but it will be the best all-British heavyweight fight since Lennox Lewis beat Frank Bruno in 1993.

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