Boxing: Skelton can add clout to heavyweight division

Matt Skelton is one of the most popular British heavyweight champions for decades and that is exactly what the neglected division needs. Tonight, at York Hall, Bethnal Green, he will defend his title for the first time against Brixton's Keith Long and for once the 'sold out' signs on the doors at the ancient hall will be genuine, as Bedford's Skelton has an enormous following.

There was a time when it was thought he would not progress much further than lively under-card fights, but that changed in April when he knocked out Michael Sprott, who in January had out-pointed Danny Williams to win the British title. If Skelton beats Longthere appears to be very little on the British heavyweight horizon to challenge him.

The man that Skelton wants and deserves is Audley Harrison, but the Olympic champion is injured and is unlikely to fight again until early next year. Skelton has spoken hopefully about fighting Williams, but that looks unlikely. Williams will meet Vitali Klitschko for the World Boxing Council heavyweight title on 11 December and, win or lose, is unlikely to relish the prospect of meeting somebody as strong and awkward as Skelton.

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