Boxing: Skelton points Francis to the exit door

Julius Francis promised to follow heavyweight boxing's commander-in-chief, Lennox Lewis, into voluntary retirement if he failed to defeat Matt Skelton whom he dismissed as a novice at London's York Hall last night. Whether he will do so after losing a lopsided battle on points over 10 rounds to the English champion remains to be seen. But, as he said himself, there is now nowhere else really to go.

It was the 39-year-old Francis's sixth successive loss in his 40-fight career. And at 18 and a half stones, he is looking like a portly, pugilistic pensioner.

For Skelton, this was his 12th victory in his 17 months since converting from kick-boxing and the first time he was taken the distance. This was supposed to be his defining bout but in an ugly brawl, there were still questions remaining about his ability which perhaps only the recently crowned British champion, Michael Sprott, or better still, Audley Harrison, can answer.

Skelton, 35 going on 38, was a clear winner on the scorecard of referee Richie Davies by 98 points to 92, despite the reduction of a point in the seventh round for illegal use of his head.

Francis used his head too, but in a brainier fashion, clashing, covering up and generally smothering Skelton's pistol-like punches which had brought swifter conclusions in his previous contest.

It was a frustrating night for the Bedford man. Only one boxer came to fight and it was him. Francis, whose chief claim to fame was being KO'd in two rounds by Mike Tyson, had planned a survival campaign and who could blame him?

There was much holding and hugging from Francis, and too much showboating from Skelton. He still has much to learn and while some lessons may have been absorbed, he will need to show sharper concentration and more accuracy if he is to emerge as the force on the heavyweight scene his co-manager Frank Maloney insists he will be.

Maloney, so long in Lewis's corner, seemed to grow impatient as his new charge failed to penetrate fortress Francis. A sell-out crowd was an indication that Skelton is building support but he also needs to build a more varied repertoire. Whether he has time to do so is as much in doubt as Francis's future.

The immediate message is "Come back Lennox. Or come in Audley''.

peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
New Articles
i100... with this review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
footballTim Sherwood: This might be th match to wake up Manchester City
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
New Articles
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Blahnik says: 'I think I understand the English more than they do themselves'
Arts and Entertainment
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
TVInside Downton Abbey series 5
Life and Style
The term 'normcore' was given the oxygen of publicity by New York magazine during the autumn/winter shows in Paris in February
fashionWhen is a trend a non-trend? When it's Normcore, since you ask
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Research Manager - Quantitative/Qualitative

£32000 - £42000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam