Junior middleweight prospect Hamzah Sheeraz has heard the criticism of himself and referee Steve Gray from this past Saturday’s stoppage win over Bradley Skeete, and Sheeraz is both owning up to the foul and offering Skeete a chance at a rematch to clear the controversy.
Sheeraz, 22, had plenty of trouble with the 34-year-old Skeete, but the fight turned in the eighth round. Sheeraz started applying some good pressure and was getting to Skeete, scoring a legitimate knockdown, but then landed shots while Skeete was down. He lost a point for that from referee Gray, and some thought it could have been a disqualification, feeling it was intentional.
Skeete never really recovered, and was stopped early in the ninth round.
The British Boxing Board of Control plan to review what happened on Wednesday, it should be noted, and it could be turned over to a no-contest, but Sheeraz is getting ahead of that and offering the rematch no matter what happens there. He also denies that he intentionally fouled Skeete.
“This was not and never would be an intentional act,” Sheeraz wrote on social media. “Things happen in fights and during any combat sport but above all else, especially in boxing, we have to remember this is a sport of gentlemen.
“Bradley Skeete boxed superbly and must be feeling aggrieved that his performance did not bear fruit, but I am not and will never be a cheat, although I concede that an unintentional foul could have cost me the fight, and then I would be asking for redemption.
“Based on this, the only honorable thing to do, so to put matters to rest, is to offer Bradley Skeete a rematch. There was not a rematch clause in the contract, this is me asking my team to make the fight so that there is no controversy or criticism going forward.”
Sheeraz (14-0, 10 KO) says it will be up to agreement from Skeete (29-4, 14 KO) and his team, plus the British Boxing Board of Control and the WBO, who sanctioned the fight for Sheeraz’s WBO European title.
“I feel I was winning the fight comfortably and at times giving out a boxing lesson,” he said. “To be hit on the back of the head for the knockdown then clearly out of frustration to be hit another three times when defenseless on the canvas is disgusting! I believe Steve Gray made a big mistake last night. My pride and heart would never let me stay on that canvas. The ref had a job to do and I feel he didn’t do it. The rules are the rules. You can’t hit a man when he’s down, especially not three times! Disgusting!”
Whether you buy that it was unintentional or still feel Sheeraz may have been acting in frustration or whatever, I think he deserves at least some credit for owning up to the foul and offering the rematch. As I said in the recap, what I hated about this was it seemed Sheeraz was going to be able to do what wound up happening even without the foul. He was the bigger, younger, fresher fighter, and he was pressuring effectively and had Skeete in trouble. The foul muddied it up some, and that’s unfortunate.
The idea to do a rematch works for me; I think Sheeraz can fight better, and I think Skeete deserves the opportunity to prove he can, too, as he really hadn’t been in a serious fight in three years.