Derry Matthews: “My first 3 years as a pro was the best years of my life”

Derry Mathews (38-12-2) called time on his boxing career earlier this year. The Liverpool man nicknamed ‘Dirty’ bought to the end his 52-fight career following defeat at the hands of domestic rival Ohara Davies at the 02 Arena, London.

Growing up next door to the Solly gym in Liverpool, Mathews says, “that’s where I learnt my trade and manners”. Despite only having 65 amateur fights, Derry managed to become ABA Bantamweight champion in 2002, before turning pro a year later.

Starting his pro career under the guidance of trainer George Vaughan, Mathews said “George Vaughan taught me everything about pro boxing, my first 3 years as a pro was the best years of my life, I was with George everyday learning in the gym”. This was clear to see as Mathews won the first 20 bouts of professional career, with the stand out victory coming against Stephen Foster in 2006.

In 2008, the Liverpool fighter moved promotional companies as he moved away from Frank Warren and joined the newly formed Hayemaker promotions, with Matthews stating that “they (Hayemaker promotions) offered me a deal I couldn’t refuse, I went and met Frank man to man, he told me to accept the deal as he couldn’t match it but the door was always open to come back”. The following year, following the collapse of Setanta Sports and the loss of Hayemakers television deal, Matthews left the promoter and signed for Hatton promotions.

Making his debut on the Matthew Hatton versus Lovemore N’Dou undercard, Mathews faced Scott Lowton, but lost the bout via a TKO decision after the referee deemed him unfit to continue in round 6.

Just a year later though Mathews entered the Prizefighter series in the super featherweight division, with previous opponents Lowton and Choi Tseveenpurev entering also. Matthews got to the final but lost out to Gary Buckland via a second round stoppage, but stated “I entered Prizefighter to box Choi (Tseveenpurev) and Lawton, to avenge my previous defeats. I got to beat Choi so wasn’t bothered about the final, beating him was worth more than the money”.

Following the Prizefighter series, Mathews went on to have some big fights in the Lightweight Division, fighting names such as Gavin Rees, Anthony Crolla, Terry Flanagan, Tommy Coyle and Curtis Woodhouse, and would go on to win the Commonwealth Lightweight title against Coyle before going on to successfully defend it against Woodhouse in his next bout.

This was the pinnacle of Mathews career fighting these names. The Liverpool man agreed saying “I would say yes you only have to look at the names, can you name any other Scouse fighter to box so many champions? They want padded records but I want to be remembered for having balls and being a tough man”.

The last three fights in Derry Mathews career, saw him rematch with WBO World Lightweight champion Terry Flanagan and fight Olympic Gold medallist Luke Campbell as well as taking on WBC Silver Super Lightweight champion Ohara Davies, showing that he certainly was prepared to get in the ring with the best names in the division. Mathews believes that Flanagan or Campbell are currently the best Lightweights in the world.Matthews v Flanagan

(Picture courtesy of

With Mathews deciding to hang up the gloves following the defeat to Davies, he took over trainer George Vaughan’s gym and rebuilt it. He is now focusing his attentions on the coaching side of the sport.

The Solly Gym (Derry Matthews)

(Picture courtesy of

Head coach Vaughan, is teaching Mathews alongside other former fighter Joe McNally everything they need to know. The gym is thriving and has a good stable of fighters that include Sam Maxwell, JJ Metcalf, Nathan Bennett, Ryan Moorhead and the newest addition is Heavyweight David Price, who has recently announced he will be returning to the sport.

With Mathews now training a range of fighters, some with a lot of experience and some with little, the Liverpool man’s words of advice for any fighter is “Enjoy it and the make the most of it. Never forget where you’re from or who your friends are because once its finished you will need your pals!”.

Everyone at the ‘Boxing Reporter’ wishes Derry and his team all the best with the gym, and hope to see his stable of fighters succeed inside the ring.

By Nick Pratt


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