Derry Matthews stops Jennings : Full fight report
By John Evans
Experience was the telling factor as Derry Mathews stopped local rival Stephen Jennings in front of a raucous crowd at a packed Greenbank Leisure Centre in Liverpool on Saturday night. In the process Mathews picked up the British Masters lightweight title and moves on to a potentially thrilling bout with European champion Gavin Rees on October 1st.
Jennings, 9st 8 1/2lbs, was taking part in just his seventh professional fight and can hold his head high after a brave performance. Sadly for him, Mathews, also 9st 8 ½ lbs, was able to weather an aggressive start and impose himself increasingly as the fight wore on.
Jennings came out aggressively as he sought to gain Mathews respect. “I had to concentrate in the first round” Mathews said in his dressing room after the fight. “I knew he’d come out all guns blazing”. Jennings looked to establish his left hook to both body and head but ‘Dirty’ Derry was able to maintain his composure and find the gaps to land a damaging straight right hand. Undeterred, Jennings continued to press forward.
Mathews began the second round by attempting to use his jab more and seemingly couldn’t miss with his right hand. Jennings began to look disorganised and he was crowding his attacks. Mathews had a slight smile on his face already, as if he knew he was in control.
The third was a slightly quieter round. Mathews appeared the more relaxed of the pair but was being denied the room to land his punches as Jennings continued to press forward. A Mathews uppercut and hook landed cleanly and bought blood from his rivals nose. Jennings was slowly unravelling but to his enormous credit he refused to fold.
Although not having everything his own way Mathews was clearly the boss and began the fourth round on the front foot. A perfectly timed one-two landed flush and forced Jennings onto the ropes. Instead of flailing away, Mathews feinted and probed with the jab attempting to draw Jennings lead so he could counter. The energy was draining from Jennings before our eyes and after a flurry against the ropes, he finally broke and dropped to the canvas. He was up to take referee Steye Grays count but seemed tired and hurt. The bell sounded at just the right time for ‘Jenko’ and he tottered back to his corner.
Jennings bravely rose from his stool for the fifth and continued to plough forward. Mathews picked his shots nicely as Jennings closed and after taking a left hook high on his head, Jennings sank to all fours for the second time. This time Mathews pounced, landing a succession of uppercuts and hooks. Jennings wisely tried to hold and buy time but seemed totally spent. He was granted a few seconds reprieve as Mathews picked up a warning for hitting his man on the back of the head. It was a brief respite though. As soon as the action recommenced, Mathews charged into his opponent and a left hook sent him down for the second time in the round. The bell came to Jennings rescue but what looked like a tough task beforehand now resembled one an almost impossible one.
To his eternal credit, Jennings came out for the sixth and took the fight to the more experienced man. He grimly gritted his teeth and attempted to make inroads with his left hook to the body. Mathews was in no mood to surrender his hold on the bout and after taking a nice uppercut from Jennings he unleashed a beautiful left, right, left combination, each of which rocked Jennings’ head back. He followed this with a series of beautifully picked right hands and as Jennings fell into the ropes, Mathews followed him and kept punching until referee Steve Grey decided enough was enough and stepped in to stop the bout at 2.50 of the sixth round. “I didn’t underestimate Stephen. I knew he’d give me a good fight. He was in just his seventh fight and taking on a future European champion” he said referring to the upcoming bout with Rees. “He tapped me a couple of times and caught me with a good body shot but I proved I’ve got a chin”.
“I was drained at 9stone but feel really strong at 9st 9lbs” continued Mathews, now 29-5 (15), “I’ve worked really hard and Oliver Harrison has turned my career around. He said “Well done, I’ll see you on Monday” and left straight after the fight! He’s gone straight home to study Rees. That’s how professional he is.”
“Gavin is very good, strong and I have a lot of respect for him but I don’t think he’ll be as strong as Stephen was tonight”.
The pick of the undercard saw Terry Needham and Sheffields Dale Hutchinson engage in a wild two round welterweight brawl that ended with Hutchinson detonating a huge right hook that knocked out the local favourite. There was no feeling out period and the pair traded from the start. Needham produced the cleaner work but every success was answered by “The Black Mamba”. Having had his nose bloodied by a huge right hook and a point deducted for a pretty blatant elbow in the second, Hutchinson drew Needham into a wild exchange on the ropes and was able to get his big shot home first. Referee Steve Gray rightly waved off the bout at 1.59 of the round. Hutchinson weighed in at 10st 8lb whilst Needham scaled 10st 2 1/2lb.
English Welterweight champion Adnan Amar walked through his return after an 18 month absence with a 40-36 points victory over Matt Seawright. Although it wasn’t the most thrilling spectacle, Amar will just be happy to be back.
Unbeaten Kevin Satchell moved to 6-0 with a straightforward points victory over journeyman Delroy Spencer. Satchell, who weighed in at 8 10 1/2lbs, was in control from the start, stayed very busy and showed some good variety to comfortably outscore Spencer 40-36 on referee Steve Grays card.
James ‘Jazza’ Dickens took a 40-36 decision victory over Chuck Jones, 9st 1 1/2lbs, in a super featherweight contest. Dickens, 9st 5lbs, displayed some excellent boxing ability in patches, especially the final round as he coasted to victory.
Joe Tonks earned a comfortable points victory in a lightweight clash with Robin Deakin. Tonks was never in trouble and seemed to grow in confidence as the fight wore on. A right uppercut forced Deakin to touch down in the third round and referee Mark Lysons 60-53 scorecard was a formality.