Matthew Thirlwall: The Year Ahead

17.01.07 - Matthew Thirlwall intends to overcome the frustrations he has experienced since becoming a professional and make 2007 the year in which he takes fulfilling the potential he demonstrated as an amateur to the next level. The 26-year-old middleweight from Bermondsey turned over as a member of Hennessy Sports ‘Real Class of 2002’ after a standout career in the vest that saw him put in an outstanding tournament run to stop 7 of his 8 victims on the way to a Senior ABA Title..

According to expectations he made an impressive start in the paid ranks, recording 10 wins, (5 early), inside his first two years and in the process avenging a hotly disputed decision loss to Gary Beardsley.

It was then he suffered his first injury, damaging his hand in sparring. He didn’t return to the ring until September 2004 when he met Jason Collins, whom he had previously beaten via 5th round stoppage.

Given the layoff, he clearly wasn’t his usual sharp self during the six hard-fought rounds they contested, but he looked to have done enough to earn the decision. The referee saw things differently.

This setback was compounded when he suffered a torn muscle in his elbow shortly afterwards in training that dragged on and ruled him out for well over year.

This time he bounced back in style. After just one fight, he contested an English Championship Eliminator against Donovan Smilie last January that proved to be one of the fights of the year. The contest ebbed and flowed, but Thirlwall always had the edge and scored a sensational knockout in the 9th.

Fresh from the win, the former England amateur travelled to Florida to appear on a card headlined by his Hennessy Sports team-mate Howard Eastman last March.

Whilst he won in style, scoring a sixth round knockout to the delight of the American crowd, he suffered a recurrence of the elbow injury. Determined to prevent another repeat, he sought the best treatment available and made what looks to set be a permanent comeback in December with a points win over Howard Clarke.

“The elbow’s brand new,” explained Thirlwall. “I have been going to physio every week to make sure it doesn’t happen again. They have assured me that because I have had such intensive treatment, there is no long-term weakness there. It won’t hold me back now.”

A renewed dedication in the gym has also seen him improve his general fitness. “I’m as fit as I have ever been now. There has always been something niggling going on, but I have had a clear run and haven’t been out of the gym. It’s just been a case of working on my sharpness over the last week or so.”

Thirlwall’s return to the title trail continues on the undercard of Junior Witter’s ‘First Defence’ of his WBC light welterweight championship against Mexico’s Arturo Morua this Saturday.

Witter’s fight headlines the UK portion of a Sky Pay Per View Event that also features Ricky Hatton’s challenge to IBF 140lb champion Juan Urango in Las Vegas.

“It’s a big event to be boxing on,” Thirlwall added. “Alexandra Palace is a great venue to fight at. There is a good atmosphere every time and it will be a big occasion because of Witter.”

The South Londoner will go over six rounds in a fight that will prepare him for what he plans to be a big 2007.

“It’s an important year for me. I want to start making my mark properly,” he continued. “I am still improving, despite the layoffs. I have become more of a boxer. I am a bit more of a thinker and use tactics more now - that’s the influence of my trainer Robert McCracken.

“I want to start showing that in big fights. I would love to win the English Title this year. Wayne Elcock, (current champion), is tough, but I’d beat him. I wouldn’t mind also getting back out to the States again. It was good experience and I think I have a style they like.

“By the end of the year I would like to at least be in position to fight for the British Title. My gym mate Howard Eastman has it at the moment, but he is definitely moving back up to bigger things.”

Tickets for the Hennessy Sports ‘First Defence’ event are available on 0870 060 1795. For the full bill please visit

Article posted on 17.01.2007

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