York Hall Boxing Report - Michael Sprott captures the Prizefighter Trophy, Skelton scores a Unanimous Decision
By Iain Dolan at ringside (Oct 14, 2010) Doghouse Boxing -  
This past Saturday another packed house at York Hall and another hot and sweaty night of thrills and spills as Reading's Michael Sprott captured the trophy in the 4th installment of the Heavyweights in the Prizefighter series. An emotional Sprott gained revenge for two defeats over the longer format at the hands of Bedford's Matt Skelton gaining a split decision in a closeley contested final.

The lively crowd, seemingly an even split in their affections, noisily welcomed Sprott (17st 4lbs) and Skelton (17st 11lbs) to
the ring for the final with both clearly intent on taking the £32,000 first prize as well as a big career boost that goes with winning Prizefighter. Sprott started the better landing a left hook early on as well as keeping the marauding Skelton at bay with his jab. Matt tried to close the range, but either his punches fell short of a retreating Sprott or he ended up in a clinch and unable to get any shots off. A straight right from Michael later in the round would have also caught the judges eyes. The 2nd round saw a lot more clinching and perhaps referee John Keane could have stepped in to break the fighters a bit earlier, but Sprott was still landing the cleaner shots even though Skelton was invariably the one moving forward.

Sensing he needed something eye catching, Skelton came charging out in the 3rd round and the pair exchanged on teh ropes several times with Matt having the better of things although Michael still connected with scoring jabs. A big late flurry from Skelton had the crowd on their feet and put the outcome of the fight back in the balance as the last round belonged to him. Both fighters raised their arms at the final bell before showing each other genuine respect. I'd given Sprott the first two and Skelton the last but it was down to the judges. One scored 29-28 for Skelton, but the other two 29-28 which was greeted with a roar of approval from much of the crowd and even a few tears from the new champ. It clearly meant a lot to him and I for one, was very pleased he'd won. A nice guy and a worthy winner on the night.

To reach the final Sprott beat Bullwell's Shane McPhilbin (15st 10lbs). Michael settled behind his jab and also followed up with a left hook in the opener but Shane boxed nicely behind a high guard and was always busy despite not landing much. The 2nd round was a bit scrappy but Sprott remained the busier and outwirked McPhilbin. Shane landed a nice left hook in the third as both looked to close in style and let the leather fly but it was never going to be enough. At the final bell Shane made the sporting gesture of raising Sprott's hand before the decision was announced (30-27 on all cards).

In the other semi final Matt Skelton took a unanimous decision (29-28 for all judges) in an ugly encounter with Tyson conquerer Kevin McBride (20st 7lbs). The respective styles of the two fighters were never going to make for anything too free flowing but three rounds of grappling and holding with the occasional punch was about the size of it. McBride, from Clones, Ireland by way of Brockton, Mass. attempted to establish a jab, but it was so ponderous and telgraphed that even the 43 year old Skelton was able to slip them with relative ease . Skelton was on the deck in both the 2nd and 3rd rounds but both from holding and leaning from McBride. Over the course of 3 rounds I think Matt landed more scoring punches and deserved to shade it but quite a lot of boos from around York Hall suggested that plenty saw it otherwise.

The quarter finals kicked off with Matt Skelton, in time honoured fashion, rough housing his way to a unanimous 30-27 victory against Hammersmith's Ali Adams (16st 10lbs). Adams, in good shape and game thoughout worked hard, but was unable to find answers to Skelton's mauling, grappling and heavier punching in what was an engaging contest if not all that pretty.

Tooting's Franklin Egobi (18st 5lbs) was being touted as a dark horse and potential winner of the tournament but was not busy enough over 3 rounds to stave off the plodding Kevin McBride. Most notable punch of the fight was the sneaky right hook Kevin landed as the pair touched gloves to acknowledge the start of the last round. Despite incurring the wrath of the referee, McBride still took a split decision 29-28, 29-28 and 28-29.

A lively fight between relative novices Shane McPhilbin and Galway's Declan Timlin (15st 13) provided the nights only stoppage as the worthy Timlin was picked off by the faster McPhilbin. Two right hooks in the opener wobbled Declan and a left hook/ left uppercut combination dropped him in the 2nd. Another right hook from Shane and the referee had seen enough and waved it off.

Sunderland's brave but overmatched Danny Hughes (19st 8lbs) showed plenty of heart against Michael Sprott but was outboxed and cut over three one sided rounds going down 30-27 on all the cards.

It's was an excellent night's entertainment even if a couple of the fights were a bit scrappy. The format again proving a success with the paying punters, almost all of whom stayed even after "their" man had been eliminated and despite the heat. I look forward to the next one.

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