Super-welterweight talent Hamzah Sheeraz will have his 15th professional fight in March, but it remains to be seen whether it will be a rematch against Bradley Skeete.
Sheeraz and Skeete went up against one another last month at the Copper Box in London and what played out proved to be the most controversial moment in the career of Sheeraz so far.
The 10-round bout for the 22-year-old’s WBO European 154lb strap looked to be going in the direction of the far more experienced Skeete who gave the rising star a boxing lesson for the first seven rounds. However, in the eighth session, the former British welterweight champion was knocked down by the powerful Sheeraz who subsequently punched the 34-year-old while he was on the floor. Skeete would be dropped again in the ninth as the champion finished the job to give him his biggest win to date.
Although he was deducted a point by referee Steve Gray for his illegal blows
in round eight the argument remains that Sheeraz should have been disqualified from the fight.
“I understand the controversy over the fight, but the referee did what he did,” Sheeraz promoter and Skeete’s former promoter Frank Warren told Boxing Social.
“Where I was sitting ringside a couple of yards away, I heard what the referee Steve Gray said to him. He said to him [Skeete] do you want to get up and he replied yes. He got up and then punished Hamzah for hitting him because he hit him whilst he was down, and he deducted a point off him and that was his decision.”
The British Boxing Board of Control looked at the events that transpired at a board meeting on December 8. One-week later referee Steve Gray appeared before the BBBofC who later released a statement saying, ‘Having considered his explanation and options available to him under the rules,
the Board accept his account as to his actions. Whilst the Board have accepted Mr. Gray’s explanation, they would support the World Boxing Organisation ordering a return of this contest’.
Since then, there has been no communication publicly on the matter from the WBO whatsoever.
On December 19 Skeete’s trainer Dominic Ingle tweeted that Team Skeete would appeal the decision. Warren says he would be happy to make the rematch but there appears to be obstacles in the way of it.
“Hamzah offered the rematch and said he wanted to do the rematch,” Warren says. “Andy Ayling from my office followed that up by speaking to Dominic Ingle and Bradley and we said we want to do it in February, but they said they couldn’t do that, they wouldn’t have time to prepare. A decision will have to be made soon because Hamzah will be fighting in March. If he [Skeete] wants that fight in March, it’s no problem if he wants it.”
“I thought at the time it’d be a really good learning fight for Hamzah,” Warren added. “I would like to see it again to gauge what both of them have learned because they’ve shared the ring with one another and know what their strengths and weaknesses are.”
Boxing Social reached out to Skeete for a reply. “I declined the offer of a date in February because after being stopped I received a 28-day suspension from the board. So, no training or sparring. That means I would have had four weeks to train for a fight. Not acceptable. I won’t be rushed into taking a rematch. I’ll wait until my appeal to the British Boxing Board gets reviewed. Let’s be honest they’ve got no intention of a rematch when Sheeraz is moving to 160lbs.”