By Thomas Lyons
Along with many other top fighters, who have gone the traditional route from winning the Southern area title as relative novices in the professional game to reaching the pinnacle of the sport, winning the world title, Bradley Skeete (27-1, 12KOs) continues with his outstanding professional record aiming to become European Welterweight champion when he fights Spaniard Kerman Lejarraga for the vacant belt in Bilbao on March 24.
Skeete comes off the back of defending the coveted Lonsdale belt with a convincing unanimous points win over Dale Evans. Skeete had previously stopped Shayne Singleton in scintillating fashion, inside five rounds. Now he steps up in class to face the unknown Lejarraga (24-0, 19KOs), particularly to UK fans having seen old foe Sam Eggington miss out on winning the strap when he narrowly lost to Frenchmen Mohamed Mimoune, in October last year.
With WBO champion Jeff Horn possibly swerving the fight with Skeete who is hungry to become world champion as much as any contender in the division and undermined as a legitimate challenger, he now fights Terence Crawford for the title in April. It’s becoming harder in the hotly contested 147lb division to win the world title, with Errol Spence Jr the young lion of the division at the minute as well as Keith Thurman who arguably leads the pecking order of champions.
However, going down the route of European to fringe world level, present more opportunities for British fighters like Skeete, to then test themselves against the best in their weight class. Similar to Martin J Ward, who is now the European Super-Featherweight champion, there are massive fights to be made domestically as well as on the world stage for Tooting man with the likes of Amir Khan now signed with Matchroom and possibly another fight with Eggington down the line.
The world would certainly be Skeete’s oyster if he were to win this fight in impressive fashion and send alerts out to the fighters who have avoided him in the past, as this would not only maintain his position in the WBO rankings but push him up the ladder with other governing organisations.