Terry Flanagan has predicted tactical nous could lead to the KO of Derry Mathews at Liverpool’s Echo Arena on Saturday while branding some wannabe boxing experts ‘stupid’.
Undefeated Flanagan, 29, is entering his 30th fight, making the second defence of his WBO World Lightweight Championship against the Liverpudlian he defeated in a 2012 PrizeFighter tournament.
The north-west showdown was originally scheduled for February 13 but severe tendonitis in Flanagan’s left foot resulted in the fight’s rearrangement.
It has been billed as 32-year-old Mathews’ last chance saloon at a world title in his 50th contest and Flanagan – who spoke to MM at an open workout on Tuesday – expects a primed challenger.
“Derry’s in the best form and shape of his life, but he’s going to need to be,” he said.
“He’s a more rounded fighter now. I think he knows what he’s good at, what works with him and he’s working hard over in MGM [Macklin’s Gym Marbella].
“But I’ll go in there, box good tactics and if the opening’s there, I’ll hurt him and take him out, I promise you.”
— Tom Avery (@TommyAvers90) March 8, 2016
The bout comes two weeks to the day after Carl Frampton overcame Scott Quigg by majority decision at Manchester Arena.
Much has been made in the aftermath about an overhyping of that fight and the seemingly timid tactics on display in the early rounds.
And Flanagan, who some believe doesn’t get the mainstream recognition he deserves, said it’s typical of the way fights are spoken about these days.
“It’s obviously not unlike the papers and the way people talk about boxing,” he said.
“I was on the train the other day and people were going on about the Quigg fight and talking tactics, but they clearly didn’t know anything about boxing.
“Some people won’t even know that me and Derry are fighting on Saturday night and it could turn out to be one of the fights of the year so it’s stupid really.
“People should stop jumping on bandwagons.”
Similar to the complex negotiations behind the making of the Frampton/Quigg fight, similar hurdles could stand in the way of the fight Flanagan wants next.
The Crumpsall-born fighter is keen on an in-ring reunion with his old schoolmate from St Matthew’s RC High School in Moston, Anthony Crolla, also 29 – who will defend his WBA lightweight world crown against Ismael Barroso at Manchester Arena on May 7.
Should both Queensbury Promotions’ Flanagan and Crolla, of Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom stable, come through those fights victorious, demand for a unification fight will only enhance.
Complications in making that fight include an argument over coverage rights ownership – with Frank Warren’s events BoxNation exclusive and Hearn’s association to Sky Sports – but Flanagan remains hopeful for the fight he and many fans crave.
He said: “It’s not for me to say who I fight but I’ve made it clear who I want and my team are trying to make the fight happen.
“I want unification fights and he’s [Crolla] got the other belt so it’s nothing personal. We’re good friends me and Anthony so it’s just straight-up business.”
Not only is Flanagan – and fight-fans at his gym on Tuesday – confident of victory for himself on Saturday, he also believes Crolla will deliver on his end come May.
“I think he’ll win the fight with Barroso. I don’t see it being an easy fight, but Barroso’s got tight hands and Crolla will catch him.
“Barroso doesn’t look the biggest of lightweights to me either, I know he looked strong against Mitchell but I think that might have been Mitchell coming to his end.”
— BoxNation (@boxnationtv) March 9, 2016
Image courtesy of iFL TV via YouTube, with thanks.