Matty Askin, Bob Shannon Discuss Dickinson Showdown

By Terence Dooley

Blackpool’s Matty “Assassin” Askin goes into the biggest test of his career on Saturday night when meeting Jon Lewis Dickinson for the vacant English cruiserweight belt at Oldham Sports Centre.  Askin succeeded Dickinson as the ABA cruiserweight champion in 2008 and they are both at a crossroads in their professional careers, the winner will eventually challenge for the British title, the loser faces a rebuilding process.

Sky TV televise the Hatton Promotions show, which is headlined by Anthony Crolla’s British lightweight title defence against Derry Mathews.  Dickinson fought before the glare of the cameras when winning Prizefighter: The Cruiserweights in May 2010.  Askin has appeared on the network, but this is his first major live test in his 13-fight career, all wins with nine KOs. 

The English cruiserweight belt has been off-air and off the scene since Terry Dunstan won the vacant title against David Dolan in December 2010.  The title has changed hands four times in since its inception in November 2003.  No one has stuck around long enough to defend it, using the title as a springboard, none more so than former world cruiserweight champion David Haye, the its first holder, who beat Tony Dowling in one to win the belt – to my knowledge it is the only major TV appearance in the title’s history.  Askin versus Dickenson could bring luster to the title.

Dickinson has bounced back admirably since losing consecutive fights to Tyrone Wright and Richard Turba in late-2010, a third-round TKO and a third-round corner retirement due to a broken jaw.  The 25-year-old had to write a letter to the BBBoC in order to regain his license and has since racked up impressive wins over David Dolan and Chris Burton.  Dickinson, 10-2 (3), will be desperate to notch up another W and head towards a crack at the winner of Enzo Maccarinelli’s rematch with Shane McPhilbin, which is penciled in for Wolverhampton’s Civic Hall on June 22.

Conscious of Dickeson’s desire, Askin believes that his opponent will come looking for a big victory and leave wide gaps in his own defence.  “It is just the fight I need at this time in my career,” said Askin when speaking to 

“Jon’s awkward, he throws his shots going backwards and they’re big, looping shots, but he’s one of the best out there.  He has not changed much since he was an amateur to where he is now – he just throws more punches and digs his feet into the canvas.  We both have amateur pedigree, on paper we’re well matched, but I’ll show I’m the better boxer.

“Dolan is a very tough fighter, a pressure fighter, but he’s not the smartest of boxers, he is very one paced.  For the amount of fights Dickinson has had, and where Dolan is, he did very well, but I’m going to make him make mistakes.”

Askin joined Bob Shannon’s Manchester-based gym in 2011 after the retirement of Brian Hughes MBE, his original trainer.  Their first fight together was Askin’s fourth-round win over Juan Manuel Garay in last August.  Shannon also trains Commonwealth welterweight titlist Denton Vassell and Matthew Hatton.

“Since being with Bob, I’m a lot fitter than I’ve ever been in my career,” said Askin.  “I feel fitter in sparring as each round goes on and will show that on the night.  I’ve developed my style, dig my feet in a bit more and it is starting to show now.  I am fast and hit accurately, plus I am a lot smarter now.

“I was with Brian Hughes before then.  Brian was considering retiring and my last few fights under him didn’t go well.  My dad had always liked Bob, his fighters are always in great condition and Bob’s a technician as well as a conditioner.  I did some work with him at Ricky Hatton’s gym and he noticed four or five things that I was doing wrong – we just gelled.”

He added: “Being with Bob was just like turning pro again.  Once I was in there and started listening to him I started feeling comfortable and got Garay out of there.  Bob stripped me back down and did a lot on my fundamentals as well.  Bob is very calm in the corner as well, he knows what he is talking about – I trust in everything he says.”

Askin makes no bones about his desire to win the British belt; he views the meeting with Dickinson as his final hurdle ahead of a long-awaited chance to vie for the cherished Lonsdale title.  Askin intends to bring life to the 200lb division and vowed to wipe away memories of Maccarinelli’s March maul with McPhilbin.

“I’d fight anyone,” stated the 23-year-old.  “It feels that every time I get a step closer to the British title it gets a step further away.  I’ll fight anyone and feel that I’m the best in Britain.  I’d jump in with Shane or Enzo.  There’s wasn’t the best of British fights to be honest, not a great spectacle to watch, but come my fight with Dickinson you’ll two of the best cruiserweights in Britain fighting for the English title.”

Shannon echoed his charge’s confidence, telling me that the 6’ 4’’ inch prospect is destined to become a champion should he rise to the occasion in the litmus test against Dickinson.  He said: “Matty is very strong, he’s got great height and I do a bit of grappling with him as well to work on that strength – he’s also very skilled and talented.” 

“We’ve worked on his footwork, sped and agility and we’ll see that come through against Jon,” added Shannon.  “Jon is a great fighter, so we’ve got it all to do, but this will bring the best out of the two of them and prove who is the best cruiserweight in the country at the moment – it is a pity it isn’t for the British title.

“I think Matty will probably stop him in the eighth.  It could be a fantastic fight, but they’re both big punchers and might hold back a bit until it goes on.  We can all see the potential in Matty.  This is the defining fight.  We know he has the ability, but has he got it mentally?  Only time and experience will tell, but I believe he has it in him to get through tough times.  He might have to go through a few hard rounds and come back from them, once he does this I’m sure he will win.”

Sky Sports 1 and HD1 televise from 9.30pm on Saturday night.

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