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Dynamite Derry stops Coyle, Selby marches on


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http://static.boxrec.com/wiki/a/a9/Mathewsselby.jpgOn the big outdoors bill at Craven Park in Hull, British and Commonwealth featherweight champion Lee Selby took a 12 round unanimous decision over previously unbeaten Romanian Viorel Simion and in the process, his WBC International title.

Simion was ranked at fourth by the WBC and was expected to be a serious test for Selby, who might not be everyone's cup of tea, but nobody should be in any doubt that the man from Barry, Wales is a special talent as he outclassed a tough opponent in Simion via scores of 116-112, 118-110 and 115-113.

Selby (8st 13lb 4oz) struggled to impose his authority during the early part of the fight as Simion (8st 13lb 9oz) proved the expected step up in class. Lee came out behind his long jab, and found a couple of good shots in the opening round - a left hook to the body and a left uppercut inside as Simion was made to miss.

The Romanian was responsible for a scrappy fight throughout, with his crude attacks quite surprising for such a decorated amateur (Simion was a bronze medallist at the 2005 world amateur championships). When he did raid, Simion did so with aggression, although Selby was able to keep the higher workrate throughout behind a sharp jab. Another uppercut in round two caught Simion coming in, as the visitor launched another messy attack at the bell.

Selby seemed content to box more on the back foot, and to score with single punches although his variety is always good - lead right hands, accurate short left hooks and uppercuts all landing. The Welshman was certainly guilty of waiting a lot more than we are used to seeing - the super confident fighter of the past 18 months more circumspect, happy to pick up points with tidy boxing.

There wasn't a great deal for the muted crowd to get excited about - Simion marching forward, working hard to no avail - Selby controlling the action without having to get involved although Selby experienced some worrying moments in the ninth - shipping a left hook, right hand shortly before an even more solid hook snapped his head back. Lee was beginning to look ragged and concerned going into the last three rounds.

The tenth saw Simion's work a lot more measured, picking punches and looking for openings as opposed to his earlier roughhousing strategy. More solid punches in round eleven had Selby in reverse gear, again looking uncomfortable being backed into a corner and tagged with a right to the side of the head. It was surprising to see Selby's uncertainty in dealing with a fighter who kept coming forward and was able to take Lee's punches throughout. Simon was able to close the points gap with the cleaner work over the late rounds, but Selby had already put daylight between them on the scorecards.

The regular breaks for referee Ian John Lewis to deal with loose tape on the gloves was symptomatic of the fight - nothing flowed for Selby and he had to grind out the rounds. Undoubtedly he'll have better nights than this one. It wasn't the usual fireworks display we have been used to seeing, and perhaps some onlookers would have been disappointed as a result. That really says more about the high standards he has set himself, as he got the job in competent fashion against a world-rated opponent and can move on. He needs another defence of his British title to earn a Lonsdale belt outright, so a Ryan Walsh fight in September is likely, with Walsh having been named mandatory challenger.

Hometown boy Tommy Coyle (9st 8lb 2oz) moved up in class by taking on Liverpool's Derry Mathews (9st 8lb 15oz) for the vacant Commonwealth lightweight title. The bad blood between the pair in the build up heightened anticipation with many observers predicting it would be fight of the night. It didn't disappoint, as Mathews scored a one-punch, come from behind knockout win at 2:41 in the tenth round. As he was under pressure himself, Derry moved off the ropes and detonated a dynamite left hook which sent Coyle crashing to the deck. Tommy was completely on top at the time and seemed to be hunting for the stoppage himself. To his immense credit, Coyle managed to get up but referee Phil Edwards called a halt after completing the mandatory eight count. It was a sensational ending to an absorbing fight, and a superb effort by 23 year-old Coyle in his first championship fight.

Trained by former European light middleweight champion Jamie Moore, Coyle received a tremendous welcome to the ring from the Hull fans, whereas Mathews got the expected jeers although it was clear he couldn't care less as he coolly walked to the ring. A fighter of Mathews' experience has seen it all before.

The opener saw an excellent round from Coyle, a left hook to the body backing Mathews up to the corner seemingly hurt. An overhand right followed by another burst ensured a strong end to the round from the local fighter, who was the man taking all the initiative as Derry waited too long to get his punches off. Two more solid straight rights in the second brought a defiant smile from Mathews who didn't establish his jab until late on in the third, getting into a rhythm and backing Coyle into a corner. Derry ended the round strongly and landed a solid left hook to close the round.

Coyle was undeterred by Mathews' engagement though, and came out swinging confidently in the fourth round. Tommy was throwing powerful shots in bursts and a right hand, left hook landed solidly. There was plenty of action and Coyle emerged from a clash inside with blood coming from the top of his head, although it wouldn't prove to have a significant impact on the fight.

By the sixth Coyle had established superiority in terms of productivity and effectiveness, but Mathews' perceived susceptibility to body shots wasn't showing, Derry taking some hurtful looking punches and coming back with combinations of his own. The Scouser was now planting his feet and digging shots in for the first time.

An entertaining seventh saw back and forth action, Coyle responding to a Mathews attack with a sustained assault of his own, featuring wide left hooks and rights to body and head. Mathews fired back once again having weathered the storm and ended the round on top. He was unable to match the accuracy of the younger man however, Coyle finding a home for bursts of twos and threes, planting in right hands at will. By round nine, anyone expecting Coyle to be feeling the pace would have been disappointed. Still looking sharp, his feints and upper body movement kept Mathews thinking, and Derry shipped a right hand, left hook which slammed home in combination.

Mathews was by now feeling the cumulative effect of Coyle's punches and the Hull man began to close in during round ten. Mathews walked forward but offered nothing in terms of offense, so when Coyle drove Mathews to the ropes he sensed blood. In his eagerness to capitalise, Coyle opened up and left a gap for Mathews to completely cancel the arrears with one shot - a devastating left hook which landed perfectly and took everything out of Coyle. Although Mathews is renowned as being dangerous to the last, it was still a shocking finish. Derry hadn't manage to hurt Coyle at any point until the ending came.

It was an incredible ending, goodness only knows where Mathews found the punch. Still only 29 and having his 43rd pro fight, Derry was down 78-73 on my scorecard at the time of the stoppage. It had been a tremendous performance by Coyle up until that point, bossing Mathews and keeping out of trouble. Tommy looked absolutely devastated at the end, being so close to going home with the title.

More big nights surely await for Coyle based on his superb effort here. But it's a different Mathews to the one who faced retirement following four stoppage defeats in five fights back in 2009. This Mathews is a pure fighter with incredible heart and confidence in his own ability, who once again deservedly finds himself a champion under dramatic circumstances.




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