Anthony Crolla and Derry Mathews went back-and-forth in a great battle this afternoon in Oldham, and though the veteran Mathews was counted out by most everyone, he pulled off the big upset and claimed the British lightweight title by referee stoppage in the sixth round.
Crolla (23-3, 9 KO) was about a -700 favorite on the sportsbooks, and started fast and sharp in the opening round. Mathews (30-6-1, 16 KO) came on a bit more in the second, but it was the third where he really established himself as a threat in the fight, flooring Crolla on a hard shot to the chin, which left the defending champion in pretty serious danger with over two minutes left in the round.
Crolla did survive, but he also developed a cut that became an issue, as it was twice checked in the fourth round. The two both fought hard in the fifth, with Crolla targeting the body and Mathews landing some good shots as well. The sixth continued that way, until Mathews staggered Crolla back, at which point he poured on the pressure until the referee stopped the fight late in the round.
It was really a hell of a fight, up there with the best of 2012 thus far. A rematch seems a natural fit for both men: With the reversal of roles coming from the result, both are definitely stuck at domestic level for the time being, unless one of them gets a fight with Adrien Broner or something, and there's no better bout for them at British title level.
Mathews could also target a rematch with European champion Gavin Rees. The two went to a four-round technical draw last October.
As for the stoppage, it was definitely a bit quick, and it's hard to argue against that. It seemed to come somewhat out of nowhere, and both men could say they thought the other was ready to fall apart. But it's not disgraceful, really, as Crolla was reeling a fair bit.
Jon Lewis Dickinson UD-10 Matty Askin
Askin had a nice run to start his career, but got a reality check and a boxing lesson this evening from Dickinson, whose career has been up, down, and now back up. Dickinson (11-2, 3 KO) wins the English title and a shot at the British belt with this victory, which he earned on scores of 98-93, 97-93, and 97-93 again, all fair and well-deserved. Askin (13-1, 9 KO) looked a rising domestic star in the cruiserweight division, but this is a true setback for him. Dickinson, you might recall, won a Prizefighter back in April 2010 and proceeded to lose his first two fights after the tournament. This win gives him three in a row back in the W column. For Askin, it's not a huge loss, just time to get back to the drawing board and get better. He was shut down early before making a decent charge in the second half of the fight, but he never was close to winning this one.