Belfast heavyweight Martin Rogan has not quickly forgotten his WBU title snub and was clearly still irked at the British Board of Boxing Control’s decision to block a proposed championship bout with Luis Andres Pineda. Rogan’s opponent on November 12 Matt Skelton is a former WBU heavyweight title holder himself and the pair discussed the merits of the so called ‘lesser’ titles at a recent press conference in west Belfast’s Balmoral Hotel.
“Skelton held the WBU title, so will the BBBofC now erase his history by no longer acknowledging a title win?” questioned ‘The Iron Man’. “The WBU is still being fought for in America and this decision casts a shadow over proceedings. I was reading on the Internet –which is never far wrong- that apparently Sky Sports said that they would not show anymore WBU titles after Matt won it and Frank Warren had to pull the plug. It makes you wonder what is really going on.”
Rogan also had some choice words for the Internet tribes who criticized his venture and offered a new perspective on fighting for the sanctioning bodies’ titles that are not perceived to be as prestigious as the ‘big four’.
“For the people who don’t train hard, get into the ring and take the shots to face and body, the critics who makes judgments, it is easy to talk,” said Rogie. “The fact is that a fighter wins a belt, no matter how credible, they take it home to their kids and it’s all about what they think of it. We don’t make the belts we just fight for them. I think it is wrong what has been done, it was an opportunity to lift boxing.
“The WBU and IBU was a great opportunity for fighters here. It’s the same as Prizefighter, which is not credible worldwide but it sets you on a different journey. The WBU would’ve opened doors for guys coming up in Belfast. This has damaged boxing; it was a stepping stone for climbing the ladder. But we don’t need a belt for a fight like this [the Skelton bout].”
Matt ‘The Bedford Bear’ Skelton maybe 44 years old and out of action for a year but he has held an impressive string of titles during his nine-year career. In 2008 Skelton offered a creditable challenge to then-WBA heavyweight champion Ruslan Chagaev. His career may have hit the skids since but he did hold the WBU title in 2005 after a six round knockout of Fabio Moli.
“Belts stand the test of time and I believe that the more credible fighters make the belts what they are,” reasoned Skelton. “The WBC has seen great fighters contest their titles. If two great fighters fight each other and drop their belts then it would still be a great fight. If Pacquiao and Mayweather fought for the WBU then it wouldn’t be rubbish. Maybe there are too many sanctioning belts and the general public can’t identify who is a true world champion at each weight. Whether that’s a fault or not, I don’t know.”
Midway through the press conference Rogan stood up and took off his trouser belt (a product of Next apparently) and passed it across the table to Skelton.
“That’s the only belt we need for this contest,” he chuckled.
There’s no doubt that this should be a decent scrap between two enthusiastic heavyweights who fight in a manner pleasing to the fans, no matter what the combined age. The winner will likely move on to bigger and better things. Which could -dare I say- even be a title fight.