By Terence Dooley


As previously reported by John MacDonald, Liverpool’s Derry Mathews, 36-9-2 (19), has secured a world title challenge against WBA lightweight titlist Richar Abril, 19-3-1 (8).  The popular former British, Commonwealth and WBA Continental title-holder will be roared on by a partisan crowd at Liverpool’s Echo Arena on March 6. Fellow Liverpudlian Paul Butler also features in an IBF Super flyweight title tilt against Zolani Tete on the Frank Warren-promoted bill.


Manchester’s Anthony Crolla was due to fight Abril later this month, but he was injured in a confrontation with two burglars just before Christmas and ruled out of the bout due to his injuries. “Million Dollar” has vowed to come back stronger in 2015; he has twice fought Mathews (a sixth-round TKO loss and draw in 2012 and 2013 respectively) and would be a natural opponent for the 31-year-old should he upset the odds against Abril.


Abril won the interim belt in October 2011—a decision win over Miguel Acosta—before dropping a decision to Brandon Rios in April 2012 for the vacant full WBA title, which was only on the line for Abril due to Rios's failure to make the weight. A win over Sharif Bogere in March 2013 netted him the full title; he earned a majority decision over Edis Tatli in his first defence. 


The 32-year-old Florida-based Cuban has fought almost exclusively in America, Mathews will no doubt hope that the unsettling experience of fighting in front of a hostile crowd will even the odds in his favour and help him secure his first world title win. 


Mathews came to prominence when beating Stephen Foster Junior for the WBU featherweight belt in 2006, Forster's first defeat, and refused to call time on his career despite a torrid run of form in 2008 and 2009. He moved up in weight in 2011 and has mixed with the best lightweights that the U.K. and Europe has to offer.  The 2002 ABA bantamweight titlist is rarely in a bad fight, his ability to box and bang has kept his fans enthralled throughout his career and they will lift room should he post an upset win to bring home the world title.


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