By Elliot Foster
Derry Mathews has promised to turn back the clock when he returns to the ring in March.
The Liverpool stalwart, who has won British and Commonwealth honours in his time in the sport, has lost his last two fights.
The 33-year-old insists he’ll be back to his best when he challenges Ohara Davies (14-0, 11 KOs) for the WBC Silver super-lightweight crown, exclusively live on Sky Sports Box Office.
Mathews (38-11-2, 20 KOs) goes in against the undefeated 24-year-old on the back of defeats against Terry Flanagan, the WBO lightweight champion, and Olympic gold medal winner Luke Campbell.
And he is sure that the showings against the two previously mentioned 135-pound talents have been part of the reason behind ‘Two Tanks’’ desire to make the fight –– which will take place on March 4 at London’s O2 Arena, as part of the undercard to David Haye’s heavyweight showdown against WBC cruiserweight king Tony Bellew –– a reality.
“I think he’s looked at those two fights and thought: ‘We’ll have a bit of that, Derry is past his best and over the hill’,” Mathews exclusively told Boxing Scene. “But trust me, he’s going to be in for a big shock.
“There’s more chance of him getting a spot in the cast of The Only Way Is Essex than there is a chance of him beating me because I’m going to put on a masterclass, give him a boxing lesson and, most importantly, show him some respect.”
The pair have been embroiled in a social media war of words in recent times, with Davies –– who beat Andrea Scarpa of Italy by unanimous decision last time out to win the aforementioned belt –– calling out Mathews and making clear his enthusiasm to be able to send the likeable Scouser into retirement by inflicting a third successive defeat.
“The lad’s so disrespectful,” Mathews continued, “and I just want to hurt him. I want to punch his head in. He’s been slating me on Twitter and Instagram, saying horrible things and I’ve got my wife and my son on social media and it’s not a nice thing for them to see.
“This sport is hard enough without arrogant knob heads like him and I want to teach him a lesson and knock him down a peg or two.
“He's called for this fight, he's gone on and on and talked himself into the fight. Now he's got it, let's see what he's actually got. Let's see if he can back it up. He can't pull out, like I told him on Twitter, because he'll look like a coward.”
Mathews will lock himself away with head trainer Danny Vaughan between now and fight night and is determined to right the wrongs of previous preparations.
“I didn’t have Danny in my last camp and I did most of it with [Danny’s father] George [Vaughan, ahead of the Luke Campbell fight].
“Don’t get me wrong, I prepared the best I could prepare for the fight and was as fit as I could have been on the night but I was beaten by the better man. Luke is world class and he is sure to go on and win a world title.
“But the point I’m trying to make is that me being at home is too comfortable. I’m a people’s person and when I train in my own gym I get people coming in and checking on my preparations, seeing where I’m up to and checking that all is going well.
“I love everyone who comes in my gym and I wouldn’t change that but I’ve got to be locked away. I’ve got to be away from my wife and my son to give me that bit of extra hunger, to give me that bit between my teeth and the reason to get up and do my runs at daft hours of the morning.”
Mathews’ fight with Davies has been added to the Haye-Bellew card and he is delighted to be on such a top card.
“What a bill to be on,” Mathews exclaimed as he finished zipping up his suitcase ahead of travelling to camp in Scotland and LA. “I’m privileged to be on the undercard of my big mate Bellew and I’m excited about moving up in weight.
“I’ve been massive for lightweight for years, so I’ve been talking to my nutritionists at Body Fuel Nutrition in Kirkby and I’m looking forward to showing what I’m about at the higher weight.
“I’ll feel better and bigger on fight night and I’ll be too much for him. Like I said, I’ve got to box to my strengths, make the fight difficult for him and ultimately get the win –– and when I win, I’m staying up at 140lbs.”
Ricky Burns is the WBA champion at super-lightweight and when he was the WBO king at lightweight the Scot was set for a showdown with ‘Dirty’ Derry before unforeseen circumstances saw the clash scrapped.
“Ricky is a great fighter,” Mathews told Boxing Scene, “but I’m not looking past Ohara Davies. My sole focus for the next six or seven weeks is to beat this kid. I’ll wake up thinking about beating him, eat my dinner thinking about beating him, drink my morning coffee thinking about beating and, before I actually beat him, I’ll go to bed thinking about beating him.
“I would have loved to have fought Ricky at lightweight but it just wasn’t to be. Now, though, this is make or break and I can’t lose to Davies. I can’t lose to someone who is that disrespectful. I’ve got to win, win in style and ultimately shut him up for good and knock the arrogance out of him.”
A victory for Mathews –– one that he is extremely confident of getting on fight night –– would leave him high in the WBC rankings at the weight.
Terence Crawford, the 29-year-old undefeated Nebraskan, is the WBC and WBO champion at super-lightweight.
“He’s a great fighter, world class and at the moment one of the best.”
Asked whether he would welcome a fight with the 30-0 (21 KOs) man, Mathews replied with a chuckle: “I’ll be sick that week.”