Age no barrier to Sprott

Last updated at 23:48 01 March 2007


Watching 69-year-old bodybuilders on television this week has given Bedford

boxer Matt Skelton even more belief that a world heavyweight title chance has

not come too late for him.

Skelton, who despite differing reports says he is 39, will defend his

Commonwealth crown against Audley Harrison's conqueror Michael Sprott at the

ExCel Arena in London's Docklands on May 26.

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And promoter Frank Warren is promising the winner a world championship crack -

possibly against "Beast from the East" Nikolay Valuev - by the end of the

year.

Having beaten Sprott in April 2004 and having lost only one of 21 fights

compared to the Reading man's 10 defeats in 40 contests, Skelton will start

favourite.

"Age is a state of mind," the father-of-two told PA Sport today.

"I was watching those bodybuilders and they were making people half their age

look silly.

"I still feel fresh and I've kept myself in good shape. I don't hate getting

up and doing the road work."

Former kick-boxer Skelton made his professional debut only six-and-a-half

years ago, while Sprott has been on the circuit for more than 10 years.

"Even kick-boxing I started late - 21," added Skelton who, in his last fight

last May, the Commonwealth title from Danny Williams on points in Cardiff.

He has had a problem with his right knuckle since and admits: "In an ideal

world, I would have a warm-up for this, but a warm-up against who?

"For me, it would have to be a credible opponent and if not then I'm better

off having some time off and then bringing in some good sparring partners."

Sprott's shock third-round knockout of Harrison was, of course, only two weeks

ago and the 32-year-old from Reading is still buzzing about it.

While leaving Harrison's world title ambitions in tatters, he lifted himself

out of relative obscurity into the spotlight.

He was a massive underdog against the 2000 Olympic champion, but had noticed

how the much-criticised Harrison left his chin exposed and took full advantage

after being put on the canvas himself in the opening round.

When Harrison was caught by a powerful left and hit the deck, the referee did

not even bother to count.

"Last time I fought Matt, I didn't have enough rest time," said Sprott,

beaten then in a 12th round knockout.

"I've been round Europe and am a lot more experienced now. Although I think

it's a tough fight - tougher than Harrison - I'm confident and I think I'll do

better."

Warren is hoping to bring WBA champion Valuev or another of the world

title-holders - currently Shannon Briggs, Oleg Maskaev and Wladimir Klitschko -

to Britain to face the winner of Skelton v Sprott.

"It's a moving target at the moment," said Warren.

"But, if the Beast from the East comes through his next fight, I think we

have a good chance of making that."

As for Harrison, who insists he wants to fight his way back from the nightmare

of last month, Warren added: "Audley has been a pro for seven years, it took

him six before he had a meaningful fight and it was a crap one.

"These guys [Sprott and Skelton] are moving on. I don't think Audley is on

their radar. The winner here is looking for bigger and better things."

The May 26 card will also see the professional debut of Swindon's 2006

Commonwealth Games champion Jamie Cox, who has joined the Warren stable rather

than wait to fight in the Beijing Olympics.

Cox will be trained by former world champion Richie Woodhall and, in typical

boxing style, has been dubbed "the hottest thing to come out of Swindon since

Melinda Messenger - and will certainly have more hits than Billie Piper".

The 20-year-old said: "Frank Warren's worked with the biggest names in the

business and with his help I know I will achieve my dream of becoming world

champion."

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