‘Dirty’ Derry Mathews 32-8(17kos)-2 and Tommy ‘Boom Boom’ Coyle 15-1(6kos) will clash this Saturday for the vacant Commonwealth lightweight championship as part of a large open-air show to be staged at the Craven Park Stadium, Hull, England. Other fighters featured on the bill include Kell Brook, Lee Selby, and 2012 Olympic Gold medalist Luke Campbell.
Despite the entertaining card, the Mathews vs. Coyle clash is promising to be perhaps the fight of the night, with a colourful war of words taking place between the two in the build up, over the past few weeks. There seems to be a genuine feeling of animosity between both men, heightened perhaps by the fact that Coyle is trained by Jamie Moore, the former British light middleweight champion, and a good friend of Mathews. Moore has said that his friendship with ’Dirty Derry’ will help him steer Coyle to victory, as he knows the Liverpool boxer’s strengths and weaknesses, and despite his friendship with Mathews, will do all he can to help Coyle win. In the tough world of boxing, business is business, and friendships can be put aside, while work is to be done inside the roped square.
Over the years, Derry Mathews has become quite a cult figure amongst British boxing fans. Quick-witted and loquacious out of the ring, ‘Dirty Derry’ is a box-fighter who is seldom in a dull fight, as drama and incident seem to follow him around in the ring. His fights are often dramatic and unpredictable, and as his nickname suggests, sometimes controversial, though it would be wrong to brand Mathews a ’dirty’ fighter.
Mathews is the kind of fighter who keeps the domestic championships alive, and the measure of his popularity is evident in his promise to bring as many as 1500 fans down from Liverpool to support him.
The fact that ’Dirty Derry’ is still operating at championship level is testament to his determination and heart, as back in 2008 to 2009 a number of consecutive inside the distance defeats seemed to spell the end for Mathews’ career. However, with admirable stubbornness, the Liverpool boxer moved up from featherweight to lightweight, and rebuilt his career. Last year Mathews won the British lightweight championship by beating the previously undefeated Anthony Crolla, in what was probably the highpoint of Mathews’ professional career so far. It’s fair to say that ’Dirty Derry’ is at his peak now and a win over Coyle on Saturday would open the way for bigger things, perhaps even a challenge of WBO world lightweight champion, Ricky Burns.
While Mathews is, without doubt, experienced and battle hardened at this level, this is Tommy Coyle’s first real step up to championship class, aside from his recent participation in the Prizefighter, where he was beaten on points by Gary Sykes, for his only defeat so far as a professional. This match will certainly show how much of a talent ‘Boom Boom’ is and whether he will be able to take that step up into championship class.
‘Dirty Derry’ goes into this fight the firm favourite, but there remains about Derry, the air of vulnerability, a Derry Mathews’ fight never seems to be totally straightforward and usually there is some kind of dramatic or unpredictable occurrence. What does seem to be certain is that the fight will be entertaining, especially with the genuine ill feeling on both sides, though this will most likely be transformed into a mutual respect by the end of the contest, regardless of who wins.
Also high on Saturday’s bill will be the professional debut of Luke Campbell, who won the gold medal at bantamweight in last years London Olympic Games. Campbell faces Andrew Harris 2-5, who since his own debut just five months ago has already managed to chalk up seven fights and a burgeoning reputation as a tough journeyman. Harris has already fought another former 2012 Olympian, Thomas Stalker, losing on point after four rounds. It will be interesting to see Campbell’s performance against Harris in comparison to Stalkers. An inside-the-distance victory for Campbell would be impressive, but at this point, he should simply be focused on the win, and getting some professional rounds under his belt.
Another interesting contest on Saturday is the rematch between Kell Brook 29-0(19kos) and American Carson Jones 35-9(25kos)-3. In their first fight Jones gave precocious Brook the hardest night of his career, breaking his nose, and convincing some at ringside that he had done enough to hand Brook his first career defeat. Since then, Brook has seen a world title shot against Devon Alexander evaporate after a number of postponements, and the Sheffield man now needs to win well against Jones in order to get his stalled career back on track.
In what could be a surprise package on the bill, British and Commonwealth Featherweight champion Lee Selby 15-1(6kos) takes on unbeaten Romanian Vilorel Simion 16-0(7kos) for Simion’s WBC International featherweight title. Selby has beaten all of his domestic rivals at featherweight, and this is supposedly his first step towards a challenge for European, and then perhaps even world titles. Simion looks to be a tough fighter, who should be able to push Selby further than he has been pushed by his recent domestic opponents. It is a match that is ideal for the Welshman at this point in time and may well tell us a lot about how far Selby may go, beyond the domestic level.
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