By Kevin Francis, courtesy of The Daily Star
DERRY MATHEWS was one fight away from quitting the ring last April – now he hopes to muscle his way onto the world title scene.
Mathews will challenge Anthony Crolla for the vacant Commonwealth lightweight belt in Liverpool on March 30 in an eagerly-awaited rematch.
The pair met in one of the best tussles of 2012 in Oldham with Matthews claiming the British title thanks to a sixth-round stoppage.
It was a win that kick-started the career of Mathews who said: “If I had lost to Anthony in that fight, I would have retired.”
But the win gave him a crack at Gavin Rees for the European title and, although he lost in the ninth round, he has now rediscovered his hunger for the sport. After then losing to Terry Flannigan, he has since won his last two fights and is raring to go in search of another world title tilt.
The 29-year-old said: “My fight with Anthony was the fight of the year with BoxRec and I think this one will be even better.
“I would love to win the British title outright and I’ve got my eye on rematches with Emiliano Marsili (who beat him a year ago) and Flannigan.
“Ultimately, I would like a shot at WBO champ Ricky Burns, too. It could be a really huge year for me and to open it with a big fight in Liverpool is fantastic.”
Crolla, 26, lifted the vacant English title in Manchester last month with a points win over Kieran Farrell.
Crolla said: “This is the fight I wanted more than any other out there so I’m really pleased that we’ve got it done.
“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.”
The Echo Arena bill will be headlined by Scouser Tony Bellew, who will be aiming to continue his march towards a world lightheavyweight title shot.
Rocky Fielding will also be defending his English super middleweight title.