Skelton takes on holder Ruslan Chagaev in Dusseldorf on January 19, just a few days short of his 41st birthday. It is his chance to hit the big time and even though he will start against Chagaev a huge outsider, his ring record and durability suggests it could be a close one.
Skelton has only ever been beaten once, by Danny Williams in a defeat he avenged four months later, and although his critics will claim he has little technical skill, the fact remains he has stopped 18 of his 22 opponents since turning pro as a 35-year-old.
The Bedford Banger is confident he can go to Germany and score a famous victory, giving Britain an unprecedented nine world champions.
“My aim has always been to become a world champion,” said Skelton. “I will be training hard and I have every confidence I will beat Chagaev.”
Skelton certainly has a renowned chin and at 6ft 3ins he is built like the proverbial out-house. He believes Chagaev, who won the crown after beating 7ft 2ins man-mountain Nicolay Valuev in April, is there to be conquered.
Skelton said: “I have seen enough of Chagaev to know he can be beaten, no doubt about it. He is tough and he is very strong but he has weaknesses and I will take advantage of them.
“It has been my dream to get a shot at the world title and that dream has now come true. I cannot quite believe it but I am not going to blow it. I am going there to win and to become world heavyweight champion. Even saying that makes me feel excited.”
Skelton’s last performance was a mundane majority points decision over Michael Sprott in July, but he was promised a world title shot if he won and promoter Frank Warren has delivered.
The former kick boxer has beaten some high-class opposition since turning to the Queensberry Rules including Williams, Sprott, Julius Francis, Keith Long, John McDermott and Mark Krence.
His 2004 victory over Francis made him a big player on the British heavyweight scene but a win over Uzbekistan’s Chagaev, nicknamed the ‘White Tyson’, would elevate Skelton into the global market.
Chagaev has never lost as a pro – he drew a fight with Rob Calloway in 2002 following an accidental clash of heads – and the 29-year-old is widely considered the second best heavyweight in the world behind Wladimir Klitschko.
Even though Chagaev, now based in Hamburg, will have the Dusseldorf crowd behind him, Skelton certainly has a chance. Neither fighter has any real hand speed and Skelton has a formidable physique, which could cause the champion real problems.
Chagaev said: “I am not stupid enough to take this fight lightly. Skelton is coming to Germany to take my world title and I am not going to let him. It took me many years to become world champion and I am not going to throw it away now through being over-confident.
He deserves his shot because of his outstanding record and he will be strong. I showed against Valuev and John Ruiz that I can come out of a war and win and I will do the same to Skelton.”
It should be a fascinating clash and a chance for Skelton to follow Lennox Lewis, Herbie Hide and Frank Bruno as a world heavyweight champion.
Skelton has such a great chin it would be a huge surprise if Chagaev stopped him and he can go forward with confidence. George Foreman was world heavyweight champion in his forties and Skelton is convinced lightning will strike twice.
“I have looked after myself over the years,” he said. “I have never been stopped and I know how to look after myself. I am going to come home with the title – I just know it.”