WBO lightweight champion, Terry Flanagan (29-0, 12ko), has sent out a warning to his divisional rivals ahead of his Feb. 13 title defense against Liverpool’s Derry Mathews, saying ‘I want to unify.’
The unbeaten Manchester ace must first get past former WBA (interim) titlist ‘Dirty Derry’, who vacated his strap in order to make the fight and who also lost a previous 3 round decision to Flanagan in 2012 as part of Matchroom Sport’s ‘Prizefighter’ tournament series.
Yet Flanagan has begun building what he sees as an unstoppable momentum after truly cementing his status as a bona fide world champion with October’s blast out of Diego Magdaleno, which had followed on from his title win over Jose Zepeda in July – a victory that saw him claim the WBO strap in unsatisfactory circumstances after Zepeda dislocated his shoulder in the 2nd round and was unable to continue.
“Mathews is standing in the way of me unifying titles and he’s going to have to be smashed out of the way on Feb. 13,” Flanagan said. “I’m in boxing to prove that I’m the best and I’ll fight the best.
“Mathews is slowing me down. I’ll beat him in Liverpool and then move onto the big unifiers [later] in 2016.”
Should he indeed emerge victorious, two immediate options potentially await Flanagan in his unification ambitions – new WBA champion, Anthony Crolla, and WBC titlist, Jorge Linares, with Flanagan’s promoter Frank Warren having publicly offered fellow Brit, ‘Million Dollar,’ £500k to fight the winner of February’s dust-up.
How likely a Crolla fight with the winner of Flanagan/Mathews is, is anybody’s guess given the contrasting promotional – and thus TV – alliegances of both [Matchroom/Sky/Queensbury/Boxnation] in the UK, although the Golden Boy promoted Venezuelan – Linares – has been calling out Flanagan in his own quest to chase down titles and is also a realistic fight at some stage in 2016.
However, in Britain, the money is in an all UK, Manchester City [TF] vs Manchester United [AC] unification if the promotional and broadcasting obstacles can be overcome.
“Linares is calling me out and then there’s Crolla – who Frank Warren has offered £500k to fight the winner of me and Mathews – which will be me – and that’ll be a cracking [Manchester] derby,” Flanagan continued.
“It’s hard not to be distracted but its all talk at the end of the day, and the cold reality is if I lose [to Mathews] it’s all off the table, so right now I’m concentrating on what I’ve got to do and that’s smash up Mathews.”
Flanagan/Mathews will be live on Boxnation in the UK, Feb.13.