Derry Mathews confident of upsetting Richar Abril in Liverpool
British lightweight contender Derry Mathews is banking on home advantage giving him the edge when he challenges WBA titleholder Richar Abril on March 6 at the Echo Arena in Liverpool, England.
The 31-year-old Merseysider will get his first shot at a world title as a replacement for fellow-Englishman Anthony Crolla, who was slated to face Florida-based Cuban Abril until he suffered a fractured skull and broken ankle before Christmas after attempting to stop a neighbor’s house from being burgled.
Crolla’s loss, though, is very much Mathews’ gain and, with the support of a vociferous home crowd, he is convinced he can upset Abril, 32, in their spring showdown, which tops the Frank Warren-promoted bill alongside Paul Butler’s crack at IBF junior bantamweight beltholder Zolani Tete.
“It’s a dream come true for me to finally fight for the world title, but to have the opportunity to do it in my home city is unbelievable and I thank Frank Warren, who promised he’d get me a crack at the world title when I rejoined him, for delivering me my chance,” said Mathews (36-9-2, 19 knockouts) at a press conference in Liverpool.
“Whereas other fighters from the city have had to go overseas for their chances, Frank has got me mine on my own doorstep and now it’s down to me to deliver the goods on my side and win the title. I’m not underestimating Abril one bit, he’s the world champion, but I’m confident in my own abilities and I believe that I have the tools to end Abril’s reign and take the world title from him. He’s not a huge puncher and I believe that it’s my time to take over.
“With Paul Butler also challenging for a world title on the card, plus the great fighters we have in the city like Liam Smith, Kevin Satchell and my good mate, Jazza Dickens, all in title fights, Liverpool has never seen a boxing show like this before and only Frank Warren could make something of this magnitude become reality.
“It’s truly amazing and, once my head comes out of the clouds, I’ve got to get down to the gritty reality of hard training and blood, sweat and tears to realize my dream of becoming world champion.”
He also had a message to lift the spirits of his longtime Manchester rival, Crolla, who is continuing his battle to regain full fitness following his horrific injuries. Should he dethrone Abril, Mathews is promising that his first defense will be a third scrap with his compatriot.
“I really felt for Anthony – yes, we’re sporting rivals, but that was terrible what happened and I was truly gutted for him,” said Mathews, who stopped Crolla in six rounds in 2012 and then drew with him in a belter a year later. “I hope that he gets medically cleared and fit to box so that he can resume his career, because he’s a tremendous fighter and person.
“He missed out on his shot at Abril because of what happened, but should I come through against Abril and win, then I will give him a shot at the world title. A third fight between us is a natural and would be a fantastic battle of Britain.”
However, Abril, No. 3 in THE RING’s 135-pound ratings, is warning that toppling him will be a lot easer said than done.
“I’m looking forward to defending my title defense against Derry Mathews. He is a tough, experienced, fighter, but I plan on coming to the U.K., getting the KO and leaving with my belt,” said Abril (19-3-1, 8 KOs).
Harry Pratt is on Twitter: @gharrypratt