By Terence Dooley
Derry Matthews meets Stephen Jennings tomorrow night in a Liverpool derby that is bound to catch fire early and burn until the winner’s hand is raised. Derry had hoped to take on Gavin Rees for the EBU lightweight belt only for Rees to withdraw from the mooted July clash due to a training injury. Jennings was due to fight Derry in the summer anyway, as soon as the Rees fight fell through the two Scousers were once again on a collision course.
Matthews has held the British and WBU titles down at featherweight, he has also won English and IBO honours at lightweight; both men will vie for the vacant British Masters 135lb title at Liverpool’s Greenbank Sport’s Centre this Saturday night on a Stephen Vaughan-promoted bill.
Derry has a lot to lose going into this one. Although a relative novice in pro terms, Jennings had an excellent unpaid career; the 27-year-old locked horns with Devon Alexander during his amateur days and is in confident spirits ahead of what could his breakthrough fight.
‘Dirty’ Derry, though, knows that he cannot slip up. The 27-year-old is a fighter reborn under Salford-based trainer Oliver Harrison and is coming off two single stanza wins, against Amir Unsworth and George Watson respectively, he also managed to decision Choi Tseveenpurev in 2010 to gain a measure of revenge over the man who ripped away his ‘0’ by KO in 2008.
Subsequent successive defeats to Martin Lindsay, Harry Ramogoadi and Scott Lawton during 2008-2009 seemed to set the seal on the end of Derry’s days as a British-level contender only for his recent lightweight run to catapult him back into contention. The rangy 5’ 8½’’ stylist knows that he cannot afford any more reverses if he is to get back amongst the major domestic and European names.
“Everyone knows about the Rees fight falling through and no one was more gutted than me but I’ve been in the gym throughout the setback because I always believed the fight with ‘Jenko’ would be back on,” said the 28-5 (14) fighter when speaking to Chris Walker of www.boxingnewsonline.net .
“I’m not looking past him one bit as I know what he’s capable of but I fully believe that I’m getting the win and that I’ll be a better fighter for the experience. My last two fights have been one round jobs but I know I’ll be getting some tough rounds in the tank after my next fight. This is going to be a fight to remember.”
Jennings has failed to set the world alight in his pro career thus far, moving to 5-0-1 (2) yet blotting his copybook during March’s draw with Jason Nesbitt. The Nesbitt result is poor form for a prospect – Jennings will have to up his game dramatically.
Stephen, however, has performed at a higher level during his amateur career; the Kirkby-based boxer knows all about Derry’s ability and will have to be at his very best if he is to match Matthews over ten-threes.
Jennings has twice travelled the six-round distance; Derry has boxed the full championship distance three times and won all three contests; it all points to a W for Matthews but the fight could be an invaluable learning experience for Jennings.
Ticket information can be obtained by visiting http://www.vaughanboxing.tv
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