Derry Mathews will challenge Anthony Crolla for the vacant Commonwealth lightweight title at the Echo Arena in Liverpool on March 30 in Betfair’s ‘No Retreat, No Surrender’ live on Sky Sports, an action-packed bill topped by Tony Bellew, who continues his march towards a light heavyweight World title shot.
Mathews and Crolla met in one of the fights of 2012 when the Liverpool man travelled to Oldham to rip the British title from Crolla with a sixth round stoppage in April live on Sky Sports that rejuvenated the popular 29 year olds career.
Both men fell short of glory in the Betfair Prizefighter Lightweights II in the semi-finals on Merseyside in October but both closed the year with impressive wins on a Coldwell Boxing card in December and they kick off 2013 with a chance to land the vacant Commonwealth strap and lay the foundations for further major title shots later this year.
“My fight with Anthony was the fight of the year with BoxRec and I think this one will be even better,” said Mathews. “If I had lost to Anthony I would have retired but the win gave me the shot at Gavin Rees’ European title in another cracking fight. I had a big year last year and I’m targeting more of the same in 2013, and to do that I have to get off to a great start against Anthony.
“I would love to win the British title outright and I’ve got my eye on rematches with Emiliano Marsili and Terry Flannigan, and ultimately a shot at Ricky Burns too. It could be a really huge year for me and to open it with a big fight in Liverpool is fantastic.”
Both men boxed on December 7 at the Bowler’s Arena in Manchester and it was Crolla who stole the show in a great fight with Kieran Farrell for the vacant English title. Crolla won through on points against his Lancastrian compatriot in another domestic fight of the year contender, and with the good news that Farrell is on the mend after collapsing after the fight; Crolla sees a great win against such a tough competitor as a big plus ahead of his rematch with Mathews.
“This is the fight I wanted more than any other out there so I’m really pleased that we’ve got it done,” said Crolla. “Anyone who was there that night or who watched it on Sky Sports will be as delighted as we are too that the rematch is on as it was such a great fight.
“Derry came into my backyard and beat me in the first one so I have to turn the tables on him and do the same in Liverpool so it’s going to be a great atmosphere and a tough fight but one that I’m confident of winning.
“Beating Kieran in December meant I ended a difficult year with a good win although of course, Kieran’s health was the most important thing after the fight and I’m glad to hear he’s a lot better. It was important for me to box well and win against him and I did just that, so I can go into a massive 2013 coming off a big win and that’s important because I’ll need to be at my best against Derry.”
Mathews and Crolla’s rematch in association with Coldwell Boxing features on a bumper card on Merseyside as Bellew takes a step closer to a World title fight, Rocky Fielding will defend his English super middleweight title and Callum Smith boxes for the first time on home turf as a pro. Unbeaten lightweight star Scotty Cardle will also be in action alongside Matchroom Boxing’s latest high profile signing who will be unveiled at a press conference in Liverpool on January 9.
“This is a fight I’ve wanted to see ever since their first epic battle in April,” said promoter Eddie Hearn. “It’s a great chance for both fighters in a pure 50-50 fight and a chance to move back in the driving seat in the domestic lightweight scene. It’s going to be a cracking night of boxing and a full line-up will be announced at next Wednesday’s press conference.”
Ticket details will also be announced at the press conference in Liverpool on January 9.