Derry Mathews continued his resurgence with a stunning KO victory over Curtis Woodhouse on Saturday night. The Liverpudlian is one of many claiming bragging rights in the domestic lightweight division - we take a closer look at the pecking order.
By Adam Norman: Twitter @SkySportsNorm. Last Updated: 23/09/13 11:19am
The lightweight division is buzzing with talent on both the domestic and international scene. Here we assess the merits of eight British fighters making their name at the 9st 9lb weight limit.
Ricky Burns Age: 30 Stats: 36-2-1
Clearly the No 1 lightweight in the UK, but for how long? His performances since joining Matchroom, against Jose Gonzalez and Ray Beltran, have been far from fluent. And while it could be argued those opponents were a step up for the Scot, there were also mitigating circumstances. Burns had been through numerous training camps in the months preceding Gonzalez as fight after fight fell through. And while he was lucky to be handed a draw against Beltran he did have a broken jaw to deal with for most of the fight. That injury may yet force Burns to retire, and if he does come back it may be at light-welterweight. When he does return, the WBO champion will have something to prove.
Kevin Mitchell Age 28 Stats 34-2
Dagenham's Mitchell has been winning titles since he was 20 and he still has an enormous amount to offer the division, provided he channels all his energies to the sport. Out-of-the-ring issues ruined his first world title shot against Michael Katsidis, and although he came back to destroy John Murray in eight rounds he was still not back to his best by the time Ricky Burns put him away inside four rounds a year ago. However, 'The Hammer' remains a cut above domestic level at this stage and fights for an international belt next month, after which another title shot could be forthcoming.
Anthony Crolla Age: 26 Stats: 26-4-1
Several domestic fighters are increasingly calling for a shot at Burns, none more so than Crolla. The popular Mancunian is rarely in a dull fight but has not had things all his own way in the last 18 months. Losing the British title to a resurgent Derry Mathews, failing to shine in Prizefighter and then drawing the re-match with Mathews left 'Million Dollar' with something to prove. But with a gritty victory over Gavin Rees - who was coming off a world title challenge of his own - Crolla now has several options available to him. A new deal with Matchroom means the 26-year-old is in the right place to fulfill all that potential.
Derry Mathews Age 30 Stats: 34-8-2
A highly successful amateur, 'Dirty Derry' was 20-0 as a pro before the wheels fell off, with four defeats in five outings. However, it wouldn't be the first time he was written off and he came back from another loss to Emiliano Marsili - the current European champion - to stun Crolla and win the British title. He then appeared to find his level when Gavin Rees took his measure, and his title, over nine rounds. Defeat in Prizefighter, when he was cut over both eyes, meant little and a draw in the re-match with Crolla proved there was plenty left in the tank. Things were going against him against Tommy Coyle in July until he ended matters with an instinctive left hook, while a short right ended Curtis Woodhouse's claims to the Commonwealth title. A handful for any lightweight.
Gavin Rees Age 33 Stats: 37-3-1
The Welshman was 29-0 and world light-weltwerweight champion before he suffered a heavy loss to Andrey Kotelnik. He got back on track by winning Prizefighter but was never comfortable at 140lb so returned to lightweight to win the British and European titles. Victory over Mathews proved his superiority over domestic rivals at that time, and earlier this year landed a world title shot against Adrien Broner. It was a hopeless task against a future star, but Rees lost no caste in defeat. However, at 33 it remains to be seen whether he still has the desire to succeed, and after losing a narrow points verdict to Crolla in June he could be on borrowed time. That hunger will be tested to the full against Tommy Coyle in November, when a third successive loss will surely leave Rees with knowhere to go.
Gavin Rees (R) has something to prove after losing to Anthony Crolla (Pic Lawrence Lustig)
Tommy Coyle Age 23 Stats: 15-2
The Hull youngster has done very little wrong in a 17-fight career and put the cat amongst the pigeons by dominating the experienced Mathews for nine and a half rounds of their vacant Commonwealth title fight. That performance proved Coyle belongs at the top table domestically although things are not about to get any easier. He could be catching Rees at just the right time though, and victory over the former world champion would be a great name on the resume. Should he lose, at 23 Coyle is still young enough to rebuild. Guided by former European champion Jamie Moore, there is surely more to come.
Martin Gethin Age 29 Stats 24-4-1
The 'Quiet Man' from the Black Country currently holds the British title but finds himself in the 'who needs him' club. The board has put a mandatory defence against Crolla out to purse bids but it is unlikely the latter will return to British level. Gethin is another to have overcome adversity - in his case a hat-trick of defeats in 2009 followed by career-threatening back surgery. But he has rebuilt and the way he picked apart Ben Murphy earlier this year suggests he can mix it in higher company. Indeed, he took the opportunity to fight Ammeth Diaz in an IBF final eliminator but came up short in what amounted to a 'nothing to lose' fight. But with the likes of Mathews, Crolla and Mitchell having moved on, Gethin may struggle to attract the big names in the division, at least for the time being.
Terry Flannigan Age 24 Stats 20-0
Burst onto the scene with wins over Mathews and Gary Sykes in last year's Prizefighter event. However, he has not yet used that victory as a launchpad with just two outings in the interim - with early wins over journeyman Mickey Coveney and 'shot' 41-year-old American Nate Campbell. Set to fight again next month and we can expect to see Terry thrown into the title mix over the next 12 months.