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UK Boxing: Flanagan vs. Mathews; Tom Baker; Kal Yafai

Merseyside favourite Derry Mathews says he wants a war with Manchester’s Terry Flanagan.

The all-action Scouser has promised to go toe to toe with his bitter North West rival when the pair battle it out for the WBO World Lightweight title in their eagerly-anticipated Liverpool Echo Arena showdown on Saturday 12th March, exclusively live on BoxNation.

‘Dirty’ Derry, renowned for his all-out war style of fighting, has vowed to avenge his Prize Fighter loss to Flanagan in 2012 and says he’ll be taking the unbeaten Mancunian deep into the trenches.

“I want a war with Terry and I don’t want him to run. I want to put a proper fight on for the crowd and the paying public. I’ve got my fingers crossed that he stands toe-to-toe with me when we get it on. He’s come out again saying this fight won’t be going the distance but he still won’t name the round he’s going to stop me in. All the pressure is on him now and after the fight he’s going to realise he picked the wrong man to defend his title against,” said Mathews.

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Mathews, 32, is looking to mark his 50th professional fight with a world title win in front of his home crowd. The hard-hitting lightweight says he is the most determined fighter in the country and won’t be letting anyone or anything stop him from getting his hands on the ultimate prize.

He said: “I’m going to ask for a new belt on March 12th because I don’t want the one Terry’s got; it’s covered in scratches and I want a fresh one. There’s no way Terry is hungrier than me, then again he might be because I know he was struggling with the weight! As a fighting man he isn’t hungrier than me, I’ve dedicated my life to this sport from the age of eight and I’ve got the chance to win a world title in my own city.”

Manchester City have temporary bragging rights over their North West foes after the goalkeeping heroics of reserve goalkeeper Willy Caballerro left Liverpool fans broken-hearted. However, Mathews says it is the Scousers that will be cheering the loudest after he is finished with Flanangan.

He said: “I’m the big draw in this fight.  Everything is settled for me on a plate and I just need to go in there and grab it with both hands. My fans will be out in their thousands come fight night and it’s going to be a long and miserable journey back up the M62 for Flanagan’s fans.”

With fight week rapidly approaching Mathews and trainer Danny Vaughan are bringing their training camp to an end. The Liverpool hero says he couldn’t be in better shape ahead of the biggest night of his career.

He said: “The hard work is all done now and I’m ready to become a world champion. Danny has got me in the best shape possible both physically and mentally and now it’s down to me to get the job done. Everything is perfect and I couldn’t be in a better position right now; there’ll be no excuses on my half and I don’t want him to make any when I beat him.”

Terry Flanagan v Derry Mathews for the WBO World Lightweight Championship headlines the show that also features one of the worlds greatest boxers, Guillermo Rigondeaux, taking on Merseyside hero Jazza Dickens; another star of world boxing, dynamite punching South African Zolani Tete challenges for the Vacant IBF International Bantamweight Championship against Jose Santos Gonzalez; Birmingham ace Tommy Langford defends his WBO Intercontinental Middleweight title against Lewis Taylor; hard-hitting Ellesmere Port's star Paul Butler will challenge for a championship belt; Blackpool's Matty Askin defends his English Cruiserweight title against Swindon's Lawrence Bennett.  The undercard features some of the best talent in Merseyside: undefeated leading world title contender Kevin Satchell; red-hot prospect Steven Lewis; European Champion Ryan Farrag; Indian superstar Vijender Singh plus Manchester prospects Macaulay McGowan and Zelfa Barrett and Leicester ace Lyon Woodstock complete the card.

Undefeated Tom Baker has been preparing for his English Light-Heavyweight title showdown against Margate’s Jack Morris with a little help from the British Army’s 4th Rifles Battalion.

The Chingford star, a former Southern Area Super-Middleweight Champion, goes head to head with Morris at York Hall on Friday 25th March, exclusively live on BoxNation.

The Rifles is the largest Infantry regiment within the British Army and the 4th Rifles boast the strongest boxing team within the regiment. 24 year-old Baker was put through his paces by the very best boxers the 4th Rifles had to offer.

Baker said: “They were an absolute pleasure to work with. They’re all doing us proud and do a brilliant job at protecting our country. I did 14 rounds with them and we all had a good laugh. They all fancied having a go with me, even the smaller ones!”

Baker stepped up to 175 pounds in his last fight when he outpointed Darren Cruise over ten rounds in July and is now intent on making his mark in the division starting with Morris.

One of 13 children from a Romany gypsy family, Baker has been sparring with Ovill McKenzie at Canning Town’s Peacock Gym. McKenzie, 36, who has previously won a Commonwealth title at light-heavyweight and Commonwealth and British title at cruiserweight, is proving to be the perfect sparring partner for Baker.

“Sparring has been going really well with Ovill. He’s a similar type of fighter to Jack Morris so it’s great preparation for me. Obviously he punches a lot harder than Morris but they’re similar in their boxing style and similar in build. Ovill is the closest style you’re going to get to Morris and I’ve been holding my own with him,” said Baker.

He added: “I’m really pleased with how my training camp is going. I’m feeling fit and well and can’t wait to win that English title. I think the way Morris fights suits me, he comes on and I’m going to pick him off. I’m flying at the moment and fancy my chances to knock him out in the later stages.”

Mark Tibbs, trainer of Baker, invited soldiers from the 4th Rifles Battalion along to the West Ham Boys Amateur Boxing Club for sparring after being impressed by their professionalism and love of boxing.

“They’re a cracking set of lads and we let them use the gym every now and then when we have the space. They do an amazing job at looking after our country so we let them use the gym for nothing; it’s the least we can do,” said Tibbs.

He added: “I had a look at a couple of their bigger lads and thought it would be a good idea to get them in the ring with Tom for a few rounds just to break him to his sparring; before I knew it they’d brought a whole battalion down!”

West Ham ABC was formed in 1922 in the heart of East London and has produced countless national amateur champions over the years. Mark, son of the legendary Jimmy Tibbs, was delighted to welcome the 4th Rifles into his gym.

He said: “My dad and Billy Joe Saunders had one ring while me and Tom took the other. We went through a lot of them, Tom and Billy Joe must have done about 20 rounds a piece! Sam McNess, Ben Smith and Billy Morgan all had a bit of sparring from them as well and it was all good fun and games,”

“The Army has turned those lads into disciplined and respectful men and the way they conducted themselves really lifted my spirits. They came back the next day to present us with a plaque which was a really nice touch. They’re top men and will always be welcome to come down and use the gym.”

Main event on the card see Gary Corcoran and Danny Butler collide for the Vacant WBO Intercontinental Junior Middleweight Championship and chief-support features Tom Baker and Jack Morris clash for the Vacant English Light-Heavyweight Championship.  On the undercard, some of the best young prospects continue in their careers: unbeaten light-welterweight ace Romeo Romaeo takes on Prague’s Michal Dufek over eight rounds; Chingford super-featherweight Boy Jones Jnr and Dagenham lightweight Ediz Hussein, both in separate six rounders; West Ham super-welterweight Sammy McNess, Ilford light-heavyweight Anthony Yarde; Welling lightweight Archie Sharp; Chelmsford super-middleweight Billy Long and Sidcup super-featherweight D.P Carr, all compete over four rounds.

Kal Yafai says he’ll prove that he’s the top Super-Flyweight in Britain when he takes on Dixon Flores for the vacant WBA Inter-Continental Super-Flyweight title and World title eliminator at the Genting Arena in Birmingham on Saturday night (March 5), live on Sky Sports.

Yafai can take a huge step towards a World title with a win over Flores on home turf, and the unbeaten Birmingham star is targeting a summer showdown with WBA king Kohei Kono.

The British champion hopes to land that Kono fight after domestic rival Paul Butler pulled out of a British title clash with Yafai last year, and the 26 year old is now focused on his pursuit of World honours.

“None of my British rivals want to fight me,” said Yafai. “I want the Butler fight and I know that I would win it. Those two will probably fight each other now but, let’s be honest, that’s only to find out who is number two behind me. I believe I’ll be a World champion in the summer and even though they don’t want to fight me now, I am happy to give them a shot.

“It think Flores will bring what I need to prove that I am ready for the World title. I have the tools to KO Flores and I think Kono is a fight that I will win in the summer.

“He’s my fifth Nicaraguan and hopefully the last one before I start taking on the World champions. Get this guy out of the way first and get him out of the ring too. Jason Cunningham came to survive but this guy will come to win, then I want that World title and become Birmingham’s first World champion.”

Yafai’s clash with Flores is part of a big night of action in the second city, as Sam Eggington defends his British and Commonwealth Welterweight titles against Londoner Bradley Skeete.

Kal’s brother Gamal will challenge Bobby Jenkinson for the Lincoln man’s Commonwealth Super-Bantamweight title, Birmingham pair Michael Rooney and Marcus Ffrench meet for the Midlands Lightweight title while Karl Wiggins defends his Midlands Area Welterweight strap against Ryan Fields, and there’s a host of young local talents in the mix with Super-Middleweight Zach Parker, Lightweight Jordan Cooke, Super Welterweight Ryan Kelly, Super-Featherweight Charlie Williams plus Dublin’s Luke Keeler and Guilford’s Jake Ball.

Tickets are on sale now priced £40, £60 and £100 available from www.theticketfactory.com. VIP tickets priced £150 are available exclusively from www.matchroomboxing.com

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