Terry Flanagan claimed a hardworking unanimous decision win over Derry Mathews at the Echo Arena in Liverpool. Flanagan had to concentrate from the first bell to the last to resist the pressure of Mathews.
The opening rounds were tense as both men looked to force the pace of the fight. While Manchester's Flanagan edged the early proceedings, he was lucky to avoid any censure from the referee after catching Mathews low on two separate occasions.
Flanagan started the fifth round fast, smashing home a straight left followed by an uppercut to test Mathews' resolve. The hometown fighter came roaring back with a left hook followed by a right hook finding their target on Flanagan's head to roars from the Echo Arena crowd.
The defending champion worked well into the challenger's body in round seven, dictating the pace of the contest nicely, although failing to land any major blows.
In round eight, Flanagan was deducted a point after a number of minor fouls added up in the referee's eyes.
As we moved into the championship rounds, Flanagan's judgement of the range grew better and better. The defending champion moved in and out landing straight shots in flurries perfectly without over-committing, staying well clear of Mathews big punches.
The final bell sounded and both men threw their arms aloft claiming the win, but it was Terry Flanagan the judges favoured, handing him a unanimous decision win 117-110, 115-112, 117-110
Terry Flanagan will make the second defence of his WBO World Lightweight title against stablemate Derry Mathews at the Echo Arena in Liverpool on Saturday 12 March, live and exclusive on BoxNation.
Flanagan made the first defence of the World Title in sensational style, destroying mandatory challenger Diego Magdaleno back on October’s World War 3 card in Manchester within two brutal rounds.
The slick southpaw, who is now regarded as one, if not the, best lightweight in the world is still unbeaten with a record of 29-0 (12 KO)
For Mathews, it’s a first shot at a full World Title, having previously held the WBA interim crown.
The 32 year old will have home advantage in front of the Liverpudlian crowd, but Flanagan previously holds a victory over "Dirty Derry" on Merseyside in the Prizefighter series, over just 3 rounds back in 2012.
Given the short format, that remains a distant memory as both engage in this mouth-watering domestic World Title clash early next year.
13 years a professional by the time of the bout, Mathews will be hoping for career high World honours to sit firmly alongside previously collected Commonwealth and British Titles.
"Turbo" received recognition from the WBO, picking up their European Fighter of the Year award at the recent annual convention and will be looking to start 2016 with a bang.
Victory for the winner will propel them further into the limelight and set up potential huge unification clashes for mid to end 2016.
An injury to Flanagan put back the original date from February 13.