After a comprehensive unanimous decision win for James ‘Jazza’ Dickens in the quarter-final of the featherweight Golden Contract tournament, trainer Derry Mathews reflects on what was an impressive performance from his fighter.

“I was happy with the performance; George (Vaughan) was happy which is the main thing. Everything went to plan. I thought he only lost the first round, and won everything else. It all went smoothly for him.”

Former world title challenger Mathews, hung up the gloves in March of 2017, and since then has opened his own gym, where both amateur and professional boxers train. ‘Jazza’ is one of the pro’s who trains there.

Dickens’ opponent, Carlos Ramos, had only lost once prior to their fight, and now after adding the Spaniards name to his record, Dickens is looking onwards and upwards.

Embed from Getty Images

The semi-final line-up consists of Irishman Tyron McCullough, Commonwealth champion Leigh Wood, British champion Ryan Walsh and of course ‘Jazza’ Dickens. When asked who Mathews wanted to get in the last four for his fighter, he wasn’t fussed on the opponent.

“I don’t care who we get in the next round, Jazza can adapt to different styles, and for me he’s got everything to be a champion.

“You go into competitions like this to fight the best. The last four standing in the competition are all capable of winning it, and it comes down to on the night who is the hungriest, who makes the weight easy, who prepares the best, and luckily for me, I train the one who’s the most dedicated.”

The former European, British and Commonwealth champion, also touched on the potential fight with Tyron McCullough, which would go down in history if it were to happen.

“Tyron McCullough is a close friend of ours, I trained him for a couple of fights, and he is a friend. Also his trainer Danny Vaughan, he was my best man at my wedding, he’s my family basically. He’s George’s son.

“Fingers crossed we don’t have to fight Tyron, just as a personal thing. I’d rather that be the final for them to both make a bit of money if it were to happen.”

Out of the last four fighters still in the Golden Contract tournament, the Irishman is the only one without a belt. That being said, not having a belt doesn’t make him any easier of a fight for Dickens.

“I’ve trained Tyron, he’s one of the fittest kids you’ve ever see in your life. That’s down to Jazza to adapt to the style that he’s got.

“I’ve seen Tyron in with certain fighters in the gym and he’s taken them apart, he’s a great boxer. He’s beaten all the top Irish kids; Michael Conlan, Tyron McKenna and Paddy Barnes.”

Embed from Getty Images

In recent years, it seems like tournament boxing has made a comeback. With the World Boxing Super Series tournament being a huge success, the idea of this MTK Golden Contract tournament has huge potential.

With Sky Sports airing it live on their platform, all eyes were on ‘Jazza’ and his featherweight rivals, who delivered a brilliant night of boxing.

One of the unique aspects of the Golden Contract tournament is that you don’t know your opponent until the day before fight night. This means preparing in camp for a specific fighter does not quite work. Therefore, you have to be ready to adapt to different styles and ready to fight any name.

“We just prepare the best we can prepare. Forget anyone else, we just do everything Jazza has done. We do a programme with him, make sure he’s super fit and super strong. He has a nutritionist, a meal prep company, the lot”, said Mathews.

‘Dirty Derry’, as he was nicknamed as a fighter, believes he has the best boxer of the lot, and was full of praise for the IBF European featherweight champion. “He’s out every morning running the hills at 6am, so he is a dream to train. A real dream to train.”

Embed from Getty Images

For the other kids in the gym, they all want to be in Jazza Dickens’ shoes. Even though he is only 5”5, he’s where they want to be.”

Mathews is confident that ‘Jazza’ can step up levels and win the Golden Contract tournament,  picking up that six-figure pay cheque with a mainstream promotor on the way.

This would be a major kick-start in Dickens’ career, and the 28-year-old is more than capable of beating anyone on his day.

Photo – Paul Kelly