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20 AUGUST 2014

 

Skeete Is New Hitman


By Wayne Bartlett: When legendary trainer Emmanuel Steward compares a promising fighter to a young Tommy Hearns, it may be wise to take note.

The stylistic observation was made by Steward having seen a video of Bradley Skeete’s second professional win, so it’ll be interesting monitoring the 23-year-old’s progress.

Whether or not Skeete can live up to the heady praise from the Boxing Hall of Fame inductee though is something he’s typically taking in his stride.

“To hear that, I thought it was amazing. I’m still learning though. The power’s coming, I’m tall and rangy like Hearns so when people think I’m out of range I’m in range, that’s the dangerous thing about me,” Bradley explained.

Having learnt his trade at Wandsworth based Earlsfield ABC, Skeete – who works at trainer Alan Smith’s cleaning firm to aid his income – recalls how it all began.

He said: “I started boxing when I was seven when my dad worked for Sid Khan, my coach at Earlsfield. I knew Sid had the boxing gym so I started from there and never looked back.

“Boxing came natural really; When you are young it’s just a hobby but I had my first bout at 11 and won, then when I did well in the schoolboy championships I got picked to box for England in the four nations. I won the gold medal and from then I knew it was serious.”

Despite having reached three schoolboy finals, an ABA final and winning the NABC tournament under the guidance of Khan, the easy-going demeanor that emanates from the 6 foot plus fighter slightly alters when asked of that defeat in the 2009 ABA light-welterweight final.

“That ABA’s I thought was definitely my year. I’m taking nothing away from Ronnie (Heffron, who is a 6-0 professional himself now), he stopped me but it was a silly stoppage. It’s one of them things.” he recalls.

“I got two counts in a round and they have to stop it. You can see on the replays, he was catching me and I was catching him at the same time then I’d get stopped for a count.


“I’d love to change that defeat because everyone talks about it! Every time I do an interview, anytime I do anything it comes up. I’ve got nothing bad to say about him and I’m sure he’s got nothing bad to say about me but now it would be different. Hopefully one day we’ll meet again.”

In any other sport apart from professional boxing, a loss can be moved on from with much less scrutiny rather than potential disaster.

Despite this fact, there’s a determination and comfort with which Skeete talks of life as a prize-fighter that can’t help but inspire you with confidence.

“Social life, what’s that! My social life is through Facebook and Twitter! It’s not nice having to give up time with your friends but I’ve never been one for partying.

“Sometimes you miss it but I’ll make the sacrifices now. This is my job. You wouldn’t turn up late for work every day because you’d get the sack. So with boxing if you have a beer when you shouldn’t, you’re going to get found out.” He says.

Skeete added: “The hardest thing is my girlfriend and baby living in Coventry and not seeing them. The money’s not great at the start but one day they’ll be able to move down here so we’re together. When times are going hard that gives me the drive.”

Having felt he achieved all he could in the amateur ranks, the Penge based fighter - promoted by Frank Warren and training under the watchful eye of professional coach Alan Smith - was soon made aware of the difference he had undertaken after his rough pro debut.

He admits: “My first fight I had a clash of heads and looked to the ref to say he’s just head butted me! He just said carry on, that was a reality check. I thought I’m in the pros now.”

The choice of trainer when embarking on a professional career is a huge decision for any hopeful, and being close friends with Olympic gold medalist and former British super-middleweight champion James DeGale for years, led many people to presume he’d follow his mate.

He explained: “A lot of people was surprised I went with Al because people associated me with James and Jim (McDonnell). I did train with Jim but I wanted to make my own name. I want people to say ‘That’s Bradley Skeete’ not ‘that’s Bradley, James DeGale’s mate’.

 “Al is like Sid (Khan) on a level, he’s not just my coach. That’s the bond you need in boxing because it’s a lonely selfish sport. If you haven’t got good people around you then sometimes it will break you.

“With Eddie Lamb and strength trainer Bob McDonnell who’s done wonders for me, we’ve got a great team.”

Talking of the near future Skeete adds: “I’ve had three fights now so in another three fights time you never know how much better I’ll be, it’s exciting times.”

Having notched three wins since his debut last October, Bradley hopes to stretch his perfect streak when the boxing season resumes in September.

Probably on the undercard of his old mate’s challenge for the European super-middleweight title.


August 3, 2011

Bradley Skeete
Bradley Skeete


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