Tonight in Liverpool, after what has been nothing short of an unfortunately farcical situation, hometown man “Dirty” Derry Mathews (37-9-2, 20ko) will step into the ring against Canadian late replacement and unknown quantity, Tony Luis (19-2, 7ko).
It’s a fight that has ended up being for the vacant WBA interim lightweight strap, and after the circus that promoter Frank Warren has had to endure to put it together, Derry is lucky really to be fighting anybody at all.
Many people will remember that the origins of this fight were originally a challenge by Manchester’s Anthony Crolla to Cuban Richar Abril for the latter’s WBA lightweight title. When Matchroom fighter Crolla was injured tackling burglars at his neighbours home, it was Frank Warren fighter Mathews who stepped up to answer the call of duty, filling the void and promising Crolla first defence should he win the title.
In his weekly column for the Independent, Warren has described the nightmare situation that saw Abril twice pull out of fighting Mathews, and how Luis is the man they ended up with.
Describing his frustration, he wrote;
“Punters probably have as much empathy with promoters as they do with politicians, but we do bleed, you know? Putting on big fights can be pure aggravation and I’ve just endured one of the most frustrating weeks of my promotional career sorting out a viable opponent for Brit lightweight champ Derry Mathews.”
“The news came in March that Abril had pulled out because of a bout of dengue fever caused by a mosquito bite. I’d never seen that one on a fighters sick note before. So we postponed to give Abril a chance to recover and resume training for this Saturday. However late last week he pulled out again, citing a recurrence of the same illness.”
Warren then goes on to explain that Abril was stripped of his title, however the WBA nominated Mathews to fight for the vacant INTERIM belt instead. An opponent was announced in the shape of unbeaten Ismael Barroso, a big hitting puncher who carries 16 early finishes in 17 wins.
However the Venezuelan encountered Visa issues getting into the UK, and wasn’t able to get one granted in time for Saturday.
“So we worked through the night to come up with yet another opponent. In comes Canada’s Tony Luis, the WBC Continental Americas champ who is #9 with the WBA. Fortunately, Luis was in training for a defence of that title this weekend, and he readily accepted the better option of a crack at the WBA interim.”
If Derry Mathews is anything, it’s experienced, and the affable Scouser has been around the block in a professional career that began twelve years ago.
It’s been interesting to note however that many bookies are citing Derry as the underdog in this which is certainly interesting.
He has stopped more opponent than Luis has had fights. Yet a quick look at Luis has shown me he is certainly capable. Watching a few rounds of his last fight in January against a good American prospect, then undefeated, Karl Dargan, has convinced me he is more than capable. Dargan was bullied about frequently by Luis, who its clear from watching, Mathews mustn’t take lightly.
However Derry has the support of the loyal, local faithful, who were disappointed recently on home turf when Ellsemere Port’s Paul Butler was knocked out by Zolani Tete, himself something of an unknown quantity. He will be looking to remain focused and deliver, provided all the distractions haven’t disrupted and unsettled him too much.
Frank Warren’s final thoughts were;
“Derry has to go out in front of his loud and supportive hometown fans and box this fellows ears off. He is more than capable of becoming world champion-in-waiting and after all this aggro, he deserves it.”
Tonight I guess, we will find out!
Its all live as part of a stacked evening on Boxnation that includes two big Stateside fights in Provodnikov/Matthysse and Crawford/Dulorme, from 7.30pm
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