Having received a bye to the final of the Irish U-18 championships, the Monkstown middleweight’s first ever 3×3-minute round fight saw him take on an older opponent that had beaten him before.
Matthews, however, coolly dispatched the relentless Martin Sweeney to pick up his first Irish title, playing matador to the bull and claiming a deserved 4-1 split-decision win at the National Stadium.
A first Irish title after numerous final defeats, 17-year-old Matthews was oddly calm following the victory.
“It hasn’t really hit me yet – it’s hit my coaches,” he laughed when discussing the fight with Irish-Boxing.com
“It’s my first Irish title, I was in the [Junior 2] final earlier this year and in finals before but this was my first Irish title.”
“It was just like a normal fight – it will probably hit me when I get home and have a shower and realise what I’m after doing.”
“It felt good, don’t get me wrong, especially against him because we’ve sparred loads, done loads of exhibitions, we know each other inside out, two Dublin boys.”
“He’s beaten me before and he’s a year older so that makes it better again.”
Looking back at the entertaining clash of styles, Matthews admits he was happy to use his feet, his range, and his tactics to overcome a big-hitting brawler.
The Dubliner explained how “the first round was my first round doing three minutes but it felt easy enough, it wasn’t overly hard, I wasn’t afraid of throwing.”
“I found it easy enough, it’s a nice big ring to move in when someone is bull-charging you like that.”
“In a smaller ring it would’ve been different, I would’ve had to stand with him a bit more but in a big ring it was easy enough to move around him”
While many boxers will claim they love ‘a fight’, Matthews is a proponent of the Sweet Science of hitting and not being hit.
“Of course!” he said, “I have to try and save the face a bit – what’s left of it!”
The win is made more impressive as Matthews revealed that his preparations for the championships were far from perfect.
The teenage talent noted how “I hadn’t been sparring because I injured my nose a couple of weeks ago, I thought I might have broken it, so I didn’t really have much sparring.”
“It was difficult to stay sharp but I was training each day, two or three times a day.”
“The club is in the off-season, so there’s only a couple of us down training, which was good, with less of us there’s more time for the coaches to focus on the individual boxer, it makes it a bit easier.”
Only moving into the Youth ranks now, the Monkstown puncher will be fighting in the same championships next year.
With a first Irish title in the bag, Matthews is eyeing more – and a spot on the Irish team.
“That’s the goal for next season,” he outlined.
“I hope to defend this in February and again next Summer.
“It’s good to start off on the right foot.”
“I’m going to take a bit of a break now, a week or two, and then get back into it.”
“I need to make sure I can do the three threes hard and fast. In there I felt, in the third round, my nose kind of went a bit.”
“I’m still trying to adjust, I’m still getting used to it. The more time I have, the better I’m going to be.”