By Shaun Brown
This Saturday night’s British lightweight title fight in Liverpool between champion, Martin Gethin 24-4-1 (11) and challenger, Derry Mathews 34-9-2 (19) has a whiff of the win or bust about it.
Both fighters, who turn 31 this year, are both fighting for the first time since losses to Ammeth Diaz and Stephen Ormond respectively. Gethin, known as ‘The Quiet Man’ was stopped in seven rounds last May by the Panamanian during an IBF lightweight title final eliminator whilst ‘Dirty’ Derry was comfortably outpointed by Ireland’s ever-improving Stephen Ormond over ten rounds last December.
The stakes are high. A loss for Gethin, whose profile isn’t exactly up in lights, may reduce him to the ‘high stakes, low reward’ club and see his career get lost in undercard slots. A loss for Mathews may just finally put the end to an Indian summer which has been carrying on for a couple of years.
When speaking to BoxingScene earlier this week, Gethin insisted that there’s more to lose in this fight for Mathews rather than himself.
“I think for him, definitely more so than me. He’s been up and down a few times in his career. For myself, I’ve had a few losses but I don’t think there’s as much pressure on me. I can come back. Even if it’s not at this weight I can have another go at a different weight next time like light-welterweight. There’s always other routes I can make a comeback through if I lost the fight.
“But no doubt it’s going to be a tough fight because Mathews is always in tough fights. It’s going to be a hard fight. That’s what I’ve been training for. If I end up finishing it earlier, making it my own fight or his type of fight then so be it but I’ve trained to be in a hard fight. I could jump on him straight away and keep the pressure on throughout because I’ve got the fitness to do it or I could start off by boxing him and then apply the pressure. He’ll just have to wait and see what happens.”
Gethin is returning after nearly a year out due to perforated ear drums suffered in training for the Diaz fight as well as during the bout itself. An injury that not only kept him out of the ring but also put paid to any title defence against Manchester’s Anthony Crolla.
“I had sparred with Ricky Burns (before the Diaz fight) and he perforated my ear drum. We wasn’t sure if it would heal but when I went in with Diaz he perforated both my ear drums. So it’s only been power shots that’s done some damage to my ears. Ricky’s got a bit of power on him, Diaz has as well. It’s just been perforation that never healed quickly enough.
“I came close to boxing Crolla but I had no choice really but to pull out. I spoke to the Doctor and he told me there was still perforation there. Now it’s all cleared up and it seems to be okay.”
Despite the injury hindering him in the ring against Diaz, Gethin had been happy with how the fight had been going till he suffered his first knockdown in the sixth round.
“I knew he was going to be strong. It was funny because when he was catching me clean with shots he wasn’t really hurting me enough or rocking me. I thought the fight was going alright till it actually happened. It was the weirdest feeling. I couldn’t really focus on anything. When I got up from the first knockdown I caught him with a couple, he went on the back foot and swung round a big bomb and did both my eardrums.”
Mathews himself carries big power at 135lbs as previous opponents Curtis Woodhouse and Tommy Coyle will testify. The Liverpudlian’s punching power could prove to be one of the biggest factors in the fight. Gethin isn’t concerned with that and believes there were simple explanations that saw Mathews put Woodhouse and Coyle away in spectacular and memorable circumstances in the fourth and tenth round of their contests.
“Coyle was winning that fight. It was just a lucky shot that Derry caught him with. He [Coyle] doesn’t seem to have a decent chin, really, after being put down in that last fight [against Daniel Brizuela]. Coyle got put down four times against a kid who was a super-feather to be honest. Woodhouse was maybe drained too much to get down to the weight and that’s maybe why he got stopped a bit easier. Derry has got power. I do have to look out for that swinging right hook that he throws. I’ve got a lot of respect for Derry because he’s fought at a top level for a long time. I’ve just to keep my eye on the game all the time.”
And just as he isn’t worrying himself about Mathews’ power, the champion isn’t losing any sleep over being named the underdog for his first title defence which will be shown live on Boxnation.
“I’m always the underdog. No-one looks at me as a favourite but as others have found out when they’ve got in there with me they’ve come unstuck. It don’t bother me. People can think what they like about me. I enjoy my boxing, I’ll go in and give it my best and I’ll come away the winner.
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