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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 December 2007, 17:44 GMT
Skelton handed world title chance
Matt Skelton
Skelton is a former British and WBU heavyweight champion
Britain's Commonwealth champion Matt Skelton has been handed a surprise shot at the world heavyweight title.

The 40-year-old will meet the WBA champion, Uzbekistan's Ruslan Chagaev, in Dusseldorf on 19 January 2008.

Skelton hopes to become Britain's first heavyweight champion since Lennox Lewis relinquished his WBC belt in 2004.

"My aim has always been to become a world champion," Skelton said. "I will be training hard and I have every confidence that I will beat Chagaev."

Skelton's first professional fight came at the age of 35 and he had no amateur experience, having previously been a Thai boxer in Japan.

Boxing Heavy

The former British and WBU champion goes into the fight with a 21-1 record, with his only defeat coming against Danny Williams in February 2006 - a loss he avenged in July of the same year.

Skelton's promoter, Frank Warren, said: "It's a great opportunity for him. I promised him and Danny that the winner of their (second) fight would get a shot and we've got it.

"It's up to him now and he's got a good chance. He's very capable, he's used to fighting abroad in his previous career as a kickboxer when he travelled the world."

Skelton's last fight was an unimpressive defence of his Commonwealth title against Michael Sprott in July.

Chagaev, 29, beat Sprott in eight rounds in June 2006 and will go into the fight as the clear favourite.

Nicknamed the 'White Tyson', Chagaev became WBA champion in April when he beat Nikolay Valuev on points.

Now based in Hamburg, he pulled out of a fight with WBO champion Sultan Ibragimov in October with an illness, but says he is back to his best.

"I'm healthy and can't wait to get back to boxing," said Chagaev. "I can't wait to get back to the ring and I'm looking forward to fighting Matt Skelton.

"It will be a tough fight against a hard puncher."

Dismal Skelton holds onto title
15 Jul 07 |  Boxing
Chagaev points win stuns Valuev
14 Apr 07 |  Boxing

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