Derry Mathews suffered a heavy defeat at the hands of Italian Emiliano Marsili in their IBO lightweight title showdown at the Liverpool Olympia.
Mathews, who suffered the sixth loss of his professional career, was left devastated after referee Howard Foster ended the fight in the seventh round, deeming Mathews unfit to carry on after his face was left a bloodied mess.
Victory for ‘Dirty Derry’ would have made him a two-time world champion, after previously holding the WBU featherweight title, but the vacant IBO title proved to be a bridge too far.
Marsili, who hails from Lazio, certainly left his mark in Liverpool having been dismissed pre-fight due to an apparent lack of ability to box out of his comfort zone, with all of his previous 24 bouts taking place in his native Italy.
The unbeaten 35-year-old, whose record now stands at 24-0-1, started the fight extremely well, using his explosive style to frustrate Mathews by throwing himself toward the hometown favourite, forcing him on the back foot and keeping him quiet throughout the opening exchanges.
Mathews began to find his rhythm, finding a way through with a couple of good shots, but it was the Italian who again looked the brighter with his aggressive style providing more problems.
Increasingly bringing his backhand into play, Mathews stamped some authority on the fight and, as the home fans began to find their voice, he almost floored Marsili after landing a thundering right which turned his opponent’s legs to jelly momentarily.
Just as it looked like Mathews had weathered the storm and turned the fight around in his favour, the Italian struck back with devastating consequences in the rounds that followed.
In the sixth a tiring Mathews sought refuge on the ropes but Marsili continued to work at the body and the resilient Englishman was eventually put on the canvas as the punches proved too much for him. Mathews bravely beat the referee’s count but appeared to be sporting a fresh break to his already broken nose.
As the fighters entered the seventh blood was pouring from Mathews and, after 1 minute 27 seconds of the round, his suffering was put to an end as the referee came in to protect Mathews, who was again under siege from body and head shots.
The decision was the right one for the health of Mathews, who was left heartbroken after his dreams were shattered. However, praise has to be given to Marsili, whose stunning performance gained the respect and appreciation of the Liverpool crowd.
By Daniel Webster
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Mathews failed to win the lightweight title against Marsili after the fight was ended in the seventh round