By Andrew Wake at ringside: Derry Mathews proved once more that he’s a fighter who should never be written off when he grabbed the British lightweight title with a sixth round stoppage of Anthony Crolla in Oldham on Saturday night (21 April).
Without a win his last two contests, Mathews found himself in the proverbial last chance saloon prior to the start of the contest. However, he’ll be the toast of Merseyside tonight after putting in a display which underlines his place near the summit of the 9st 9lbs division.
In late 2009 Mathews was halted for the fourth time in five outings by Scott Lawton and elected to hand up his gloves at the age of just 26.
Despite comeback wins over Amir Unsworth and Stephen Jennings plus a technical draw with European ruler Gavin Rees, Mathews’ career looked to have hit a new all-time low when he was put away by Italian southpaw Emiliano Marsili inside seven rounds in January.
So it was far from surprising that most boxing experts were predicting a routine victory for an Anthony Crolla which had looked resurgent since moving to Joe Gallagher’s stable.
Mathews, though, hadn’t read the script and after dropping Crolla with a huge uppercut in the third closed the show with just three seconds remaining in round six.
Crolla had actually started the brighter of the two as he forced Mathews back with a relentless jab before switching his fists to the Scouser’s torso. A busted nose had given Mathews problems in previous outings and soon the champion’s accurate punching had blood dripping from it once more.
Everything appeared to be going exactly to plan for 25-year-old Crolla until early in the third when he found himself dumped onto his backside by a perfectly timed uppercut.
Prior to the fight Mathews had questioned Crolla’s ability to fight his way through a crisis, but the Mancunian proved his mettle by soaking up Mathews’ follow up onslaught before battling back until a sweet right near the end of the session had him tottering.
In round four things went from bad to worse for Crolla as a straight right hand opened up a nasty gash above his left eye. The blood ran profusely from the wound but after a quick inspection from the doctor in a neutral corner it was deemed ok for the action to continue.
The defending champion fought on courageously and even added to the swelling under Mathew’s right peeper. However, he was wide open to uppercuts and found himself eating them with increasing regularity.
With the fight slipping away from him Crolla mounted a big attack in the sixth, connecting with multiple hooks to the body, most of which visibly hurt Mathews. A whipped left, though, changed things as it sent Crolla staggering near the ropes and when Mathews landed another blow referee John Keane moved it.
It could be argued that the stoppage was a little premature, but Crolla had taken some heavy artillery throughout this fight of the year contender and the third man was merely looking after his best interests.
At 25 Crolla will come again, while Mathews has fired a sharp response to his critics and will surely now be looking for a return with the aforementioned Rees.
Birtley’s John Lewis Dickinson proved that often the best way to defeat a heavily favoured foe is to simply do the basics in the correct way.
Dickinson picked up the vacant English cruiserweight title and earned himself a shot at the British crown by outboxing Blackpool’s highly touted Matty Askin over ten action-packed sessions.
Like in the main event, the eventual loser was the one which enjoyed the better start. Askin, who was previously unbeaten in 13 paid outings, got off a fast right hand in the opener and although Dickinson fired back with a crisp jab, a solid uppercut to the jaw soon tuned things back in Askin’s favour.
What followed were several rounds in which Askin looked to load up with big hooks, while Dickinson had more success with subtle one-twos down the pipe.
Even we Askin’s hooks did manage to find the target early in round four, Dickinson merely smirked at him and dared him to try the same thing again.
Given the amount of effort he’d put into trying to land big single shots, it was no surprise that Askin’s workrate dropped in the middle rounds and Dickinson duly took advantage by snapping home his stick and right cross.
Already bleeding from the nose in round four, Askin was left nursing a nick on one of his cheeks in the sixth. This though did not discourage him from attempting to turn the tide in the seventh and his right hook began to land with a frequency not seen since the first stanza.
A decent eighth round also followed for Askin, but Dickinson reasserted his dominance in rounds nine and ten to ensure that victory was his.
One slightly amusing moment came when the bell sounded as Dickinson offered his hand to referee Phil Edwards because he’d not realised that three judges were in fact in charge of scoring things.
And those judges had it 98-93 and 97-93 (twice).