Boxing: Harrison and Skelton ready for British heavyweight showdown

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The Independent Online

It finally looks as if the boost that the British heavyweight division - and domestic boxing as a whole - needs will arrive with the imminent announcement of a fight between the champion, Matt Skelton, and Audley Harrison.

It finally looks as if the boost that the British heavyweight division - and domestic boxing as a whole - needs will arrive with the imminent announcement of a fight between the champion, Matt Skelton, and Audley Harrison.

It was revealed yesterday that Skelton has agreed terms for the fight with his promoter, Frank Warren, and that Harrison, whose career so far has been fought in front of the BBC's millions, is in negotiations with Warren. The talks are said to be going "extremely well''.

Skelton won the title last month with a late knockout of Michael Sprott and he has been the subject of Harrison's often sharp tongue for the last six months because of his one-dimensional style.

Harrison, meanwhile, is still suffering the fallout of an only occasionally entertaining 12-round fight with the former champion Julius Francis last Saturday in Bristol. That contest was shown live on the BBC but was not the spectacle that many anticipated. It was during the post-fight interview that Harrison revealed he had already had discussions with Warren, whose boxing business is based solely on Sky, and that talks for a showdown with Skelton were under way.

Skelton will defend his Commonwealth heavyweight title on 5 June at York Hall, Bethnal Green against an opponent who has yet to be named, but who will certainly pose no threat, while Harrison is scheduled to fight on the BBC on 19 June, although there is some doubt over that date.

Harrison, 32, was meant to meet Warren yesterday in an attempt to increase the money that will be on offer to him for the fight but there were, predictably, no details immediately available about their extended lunch. Harrison has claimed that he offered Warren £70,000 for Skelton to meet him on the BBC but it is understood that Skelton has negotiated at least twice that fee for remaining on Sky.

"I'm not the type of fighter to bad mouth another fighter but I think it is obvious to anybody that I would dearly love to meet Harrison in the ring for my British title and, now that I have agreed terms, it is up to him to put his signature where his mouth is and agree to meet me,'' Skelton said.

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