Carly Skelly: “This is a fight I can win.”

Carly Skelly: “This is a fight I can win.

The life of a boxer can change very quickly. In many ways, Carly Skelly knows this better than most. The Liverpool fighter has more than struggled for luck over the last few years. A decision that should have gone her way, didn’t. Skelly learned the hard way that being the ‘home’ fighter is often crucial to having your hand raised.

Fights have come and gone and Skelly has been left on the outside looking in. The disputed draw in 2020 with Amy Timlin showed that Skelly belongs on that type of stage, but when Timlin went in another direction it left Skelly dropping down a level and hoping the call would come again. Her patience has been rewarded.

Just before Christmas, the phone finally rang and Skelly told FightPost it was a call she hadn’t been expecting. A world title fight in America against Jamie Mitchell was an early Christmas present.

“It was completely out of the blue. It was mid-December and I was literally sitting in my living room sitting on my couch and my coach rang me and said he was going to send me through a message about a fight. I wasn’t expecting that, I don’t know if I even read it properly, I just saw the name, where it was and I rang him back and said yes.”

The last few years of restrictions and limited fight dates and opportunities have seen many fighters take fights whenever and wherever they can, often at weights outside of their comfort zone. Skelly, a natural bantamweight, has had recent fights above where she feels most comfortable. But the fight with the American early next month is for the WBA bantamweight title, at a weight that Skelly believes will be a huge advantage for her:

“It’s a massive difference. Obviously, I have fought at super-bantamweight but I am walking around at the weight. So when I am training intensely I am falling short of the weight so I am eating a little more to make up the weight. I managed it and I have won fights at that weight but I am better at bantamweight. The natural size difference plays a part.”

Skelly has to endure a tough and frustrating period since the Timlin fight. The day job as a paediatric nurse has been put on hold and with promised fight dates falling through Skelly has suffered financially as a result. But the call from nowhere has changed everything:

“It’s been a tough year. Even the fight I had in October which was for the WBC International title, it still was based on ticket sales what you earned. So it will be nice not to have the pressure of selling tickets for this fight and to be able to get that set purse and fighting for a world title is definitely the cherry on the cake as well.”

Mitchell went to Liverpool last year with little fanfare to challenge Shannon Courtenay for her world title, but despite the judges doing their best to deny the American her rightful win, Mitchell left Liverpool as the new world champion. Courtenay lost her title on the scales and went into her maiden defence carrying a knee injury. Skelly who was ringside, despite her next opponent’s impressive display, thinks fighting a depleted Courtenay played at least some part in a new champion being crowned:

“I thought Jamie looked good, but it was a fight Shannon went in half-hearted, she had lost in her head, she had lost the title on the scales and she was injured as well. So I don’t think it was Shannon’s best performance, I think Jamie was in with a poorer version of Shannon. But Jamie still boxed well. I haven’t seen her in with anyone else so it will be interesting to see how she does with someone who will take it to her, Shannon had her back against the ropes a lot.”

The Liverpool fighter heads to America again as the ‘away’ fighter but she is confident of springing the upset win:

“100% this is a fight I can win. I don’t underestimate anyone in boxing because I think that is just a bad attitude. But I believe in myself and I think this is a fight I will win.”

The recent struggles could be a thing of the past for Skelly if she pulls off the win against Mitchell. The ‘away’ fighter tag could also be lost if a new champion is crowned. A win would almost certainly see Skelly being signed up long-term with Matchroom, and potential lucrative fights with the likes of Courtenay and Ebanie Bridges will look very much a realistic possibility. Mitchell will undoubtedly start the betting favourite, but Skelly, could be in the right place at the right time.

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