By John Evans
The cuts which hampered Derry Mathew’s recent bid for Prizefighter glory have healed and it will come as no surprise to British fans that the popular scouser is raring to go again. ‘Dirty’ Derry will enter the ring for the sixth time in twelve months when he returns in an eight rounder on Dave Coldwell’s December 7th show at Manchester’s Bowlers venue.
Mathews, 31-8-1 (16), may have gone 2-3 during 2012, but simple numbers don’t even begin to tell the story of Mathews’ year. Following a painful defeat at the hands of unheralded Italian Emiliano Marsili for the IBO lightweight title in January, Mathews rebounded to rip the British title away from the streaking Anthony Crolla in what is so far Britain’s fight of the year.
Never one to tread water, he followed that with another thrilling battle, this time coming up short in a double title rematch with world ranked European champion Gavin Rees. From there it was straight into the lottery of a Prizefighter tournament. Having picked up two bad cuts in his first round victory over Jamie Spence, Mathews exited after a semi final defeat to eventual winner Terry Flannigan. It’s been a busy year and Mathews ends it with a new beginning.
Coldwell Promotions have built a reputation within the sport for putting on exciting, evenly matched cards without the backing of television and Mathews feels that his crowd-pleasing style is a perfect fit for the burgeoning promotional company.
“I’ve planned on working with him [Coldwell] for a bit. I get on with him away from boxing and he’s a gentleman. I’ve been to a few of his shows and they’ve been class and I wouldn’t mind being a part of his stable,” said the 29-year-old when speaking to BoxingScene.
“I’ve got an eight rounder in December and hopefully, if everything goes to plan, then me and Dave have talked about a big fight in February. Dave’s in the middle of sorting the opponent out but I do know that he’s only lost two and he’s won a lot. I’m looking forward to it.
[Editor's note: Joe Elfidh (7-2) was previously announced as the Matthews' opponent, but will now instead face Scott Cardle. Matthews is still slated to face TBA - JD].
“I hope other fighters do look at my record and think that maybe I’m ready to be finished off. I always prepare as well as I possibly can. I didn’t have to fight Gavin Rees when I was British champion, I could have hung around and made a couple of defences, but I’m in this game to fight the best. I love fighting the best and putting the entertainment into boxing. I love fighting away from home, at home and putting bums on seats and getting a good turn out for myself and the promoters who are willing to spend money on me.”
Mathews’ old British lightweight title is still strapped around Rees’s waist and with both John Murray and number one ranked contender Martin Gethin currently seeking a shot with the Welshman, for the time being, Mathews seems content to take a different road back into the big fight mix. It seems certain though that for the rest of his career, Mathews will have one eye — and knowing Derry it will probably be cut — on the British lightweight title situation. Like the vast majority of fighters who get to wear a Lonsdale belt, owning the beautiful piece of hardware made a big impression on Mathews.
“I’m not gonna go the English title route, I’ve just vacated that and there are other titles I wouldn’t mind winning” he said. “I wanna win the British title again and I want to win it outright. I’d love to do that. Maybe the Commonwealth or European but if I can win a British belt outright by the end of my career I’ll be one of the happiest men in boxing. I’ve achieved a lot but winning that would be the icing on the cake.
“Everybody tells me I’ve won this or that but winning a Lonsdale belt, honest to God! I’d never touched one before. I was in the same stable as Paul Smith and Paul Edwards when they won them, but I’d never held one. They’d look at my strange but I always said that I’d only hold one when I own it and I was lucky enough to do that against Anthony.”
2012 has been a microcosm of Mathew’s entire career. There have been ups and downs, cuts and knockdowns but talk to Mathews and there is a real sense that he wouldn’t have it any other way. The former WBU super featherweight champion is proud of the fact that while the outcome of a Derry Mathews may be uncertain, you are guaranteed excitement and drama. For a fighter who seriously considered retirement as recently as this January, it has been a remarkable 10 months.
“It’s been a rollercoaster throughout my career and a great journey, but in the last 12 months I’ve been involved in some of the best fights that we’ve seen on Sky TV. By beating Anthony Crolla I proved that I belong in the mix and I thought I’d beat Gavin (Rees) when I boxed him. His experience told in the end, but I can honestly say that I’ve only been beaten by the best out there and that’s Gavin Rees. I think he’s one of the best in the world.
“After the Marsili fight I was thinking about turning it in. I couldn’t have come back to box four or six rounders. I wouldn’t have been motivated. Then I got the call to fight Anthony Crolla. The only reason I took that fight was because I got in touch with my old coach Danny Vaughan. He lives in Scotland now and I told him that I’d only take the fight if he trained me and got me in the best shape possible. I’ve spent that much time with him, he knows me better than my own parents. He said: ‘Yeah, I’ll do it, but you come to live in Scotland for six weeks and do as I tell you’. I did it. I dedicated my life to it. I had to move away from my kids and girlfriend and it was hard but I got the win.”
That win ensured that “Dirty” Derry will be around for a long time yet and the only thing certain is that he will continue to lead one of the most exciting careers in British boxing. A rematch with Crolla, a fans dream of a match up with John Murray, a crossroads fight with Kevin Mitchell. In fact, there is barely a match to be made involving Derry Mathews that isn’t appealing. If Dave Coldwell manages to manoeuvre Mathews into any of those matches, it’s fair to say that television backing will no longer be a problem.
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