Recently, it was announced that Liverpool’s Derry Mathews and Newbridge’s Gavin Rees will square off against each other for the second time in a unification match for the British and European Lightweight titles on the bill for Kell Brook’s forthcoming match up with the American Carson Jones on 7th July at the Motorpoint Arena in Sheffield, England.
The rematch comes nine months after their first fight in Newport when Mathews’ challenged for Rees’ European belt. However, the bout ended in a technical draw after four rounds following an accidental head clash that left Mathews with a broken nose and unable to continue.
Since then, Rees has gone on to successfully defend his European 9stone 9lbs [135 pound] crown with a successful seventh round stoppage of the Frenchman Anthony Mezaache, a former holder of the European title who defeated Norwich’s Jon Thaxton back in 2009 in Clichy.
Mathews, having recovered from his broken nose, was then stopped in seven rounds by the Italian Emiliano Marsili at the Olympia in Liverpool at the beginning of this year.
In his next fight, in what many people described as a potential last chance saloon for the Liverpool fighter, Mathews succeeded in stopping Manchester rising star Anthony Crolla in the sixth round to claim the Lonsdale belt before this mouth watering rematch was announced.
In terms of physical advantages, Mathews has an inch and a half in height standing at 5ft 8 and a half in comparison to Rees, who stands at 5ft 7. Mathews also possesses a four inch reach advantage of 68 inches in comparison to 64 inches for Rees.
So, it is likely that Mathews will attempt to keep Rees at long range with his jab as Rees looks to work the body on the inside to bring down Mathews' hands to land a big left hook in an attempt to drop the Liverpool man.
While comparing the records of both men, it is clear to see that Rees has fought a far higher level, having been a former World title holder up at Light Welterweight, defeating the Frenchman Soulemayne MBaye for the WBA version of the 10 stone title back in 2007 in Cardiff.
However, Rees lost the title in his first defence against the Ukrainian Andrey Koltenik six months later at the same venue, being stopped in the 12th round in what has been Rees’s only defeat.
He also holds wins in the Prizefighter Series over former British champion Colin Lynes, European champion Ted Bami, along with defeating former European champion Anthony Mezzache.
Mathews’ biggest wins have come against former British and Commonwealth Featherweight Champion John Simpson back in 2006 along with European Champion Stephen Foster. Other domestic level victims have included former British Super-Bantamweight champion Matthew Marsh.
However, Mathews has suffered knockouts losses to current British Super Feather champion Gary Buckland in the final of the Super Featherweight Prizefighter clash, a British Featherweight title eliminator against future champion Martin Lindsay and to two-time British title challenger Scott Lawton, a loss which Mathews has since avenged.
So, Mathews is a more vulnerable fighter when rocked at top-line domestic level competition, which could give Rees confidence and is likely to see Rees’ installed as the betting favourite for this fight.
While Mathews has the physical advantages, Rees has the experience having fought at European and World level in his career in comparison to Mathews and is unbeaten in his last 10 fights while Mathews is 7-2-1 in his last 10, meaning Rees will have the confidence advantage in terms of current form and possesses a strong chin.
In a thrilling fight, this writer sees the superior experience and power of Rees being the decisive factor in this bout with either a wide points victory or a stoppage in the later rounds coming for the Welshman as he looks to bag a world title shot to continue the run of success that Welsh boxing is currently experiencing.