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Boxing Profile: English Heavyweight Champion Michael Sprott

No stranger to being knocked down then coming back to win, Sprott injury forces postponement of Matt Skelton Commonwealth title fight

With a record of 30-10 (15), Michael Sprott can now be considered a ring veteran. The man from Reading, England was becoming a gatekeeper to the European and British title belts until his last fight against Audley Harrison, who Sprott soundly knocked out in the third round this past February.

Up until yesterday, the stocky 32 year old was set to face current Commonwealth and former British Champion Matt Skelton in a huge domestic brew up that was set to take place at London's ExCel Arena this Saturday.

A leg injury Sprott suffered during training yesterday has reportedly postponed the bout until at least September. A win against Skelton would be a bigger upset than the Harrison fight and could have propelled Sprott to a world title shot against former opponent, Ruslan Chagaev.

Sprott's early career showed great promise, turning pro in 1996 and winning his first 11 bouts. He knocked out opponents at a ratio near the 50 percent mark, an equation which continues to this day.

His next nine fights, which took him up to 20 in total, were disastrous for Sprott, as the Reading man lost four of them. Despite two of the opponents being a future contender, Timo Hoffman and a future world champion, Corrie Sanders, the losses proved that perhaps Sprott did not have the quality to become a world champion, at least not yet.

His fifth loss came against the much-loved Danny Williams in 2002 for the British and Commonwealth titles, via a seventh round TKO. For many boxers, this would have retired them, but the British Bulldog style of fighting and personality of Sprott kept him going.

He went on to record eight more wins before losing a rematch with Williams. However despite this, in a third match with Williams just months later, Sprott upset the odds and managed to beat Danny by decision, something no one expected. Sprott was now the Commonwealth and British Heavyweight Champion, just days after his 29th birthday.

The third phase of Sprott's career started with a loss to his next opponent, Matt Skelton in a twelfth round knockout in April of 2004. The hard nosed heavyweight had suffered yet another disappointment as he had lost his hard won title belts.

Since that time, Sprott defeated Cegniz Koc to win the European Union title, dropped it to face Paolo Vidoz in 2005 during a close losing effort for the full European belt, lost a narrow decision to future European champ Vladimir Virchis and in February, 2006, won the European Union belt again with a decision over French veteran Antoine Palatis.

Five months later, Sprott was stopped by the man he hopes to one day get a re match with, current WBA Champion, Ruslan Chagaev. In November of last year, Sprott lost two points for use of the head but still managed to retaine his European Union crown with a close split decision over previously undefeated Rene Dettweiler.

In what may have been the most important win of his career, Sprott retained his European Union title and won the vacant English belt this past February in the high profile match against Harrison, in a clash that he was widely expected to lose.

Whenever it finally happens, the match with Skelton should be a slugfest and Sprott will be hoping that his training methods with Dean Powell and 40 year old Skelton's aging body will be enough for him to overcome the Bedford bear.

However, Skelton is bigger, probably stronger and overall the better all round fighter. A loss would put Sprott back to the post of European gatekeeper, which given all his career ups and downs, would have him perhaps considering retirement.

In contrast, a win would represent one last shot at glory for Sprott who again would be an underdog against any current champions if he were to face one of them.

Whatever happens, the Reading man is sure not go down with a whimper and will push Skelton in a fight which should excite its viewers with at least a few rounds of slugging it out.

About James Oakley

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