At 33 and with two defeats in a row behind him, Mathews had reached something of a crossroads in his career, but after careful consideration, the ex-British and Commonwealth title holder is ready for another chance at world level.
“I’ve started ticking over. I’ve enjoyed my break and enjoyed time with the wife having a rest but now it’s back to business,” Mathews exclusively told World Boxing News.
“I think this year has got to be massive for me and it’s one of those ‘make or break’ years. I must get out there to win titles and try to stay in the mix for the big belts.”
Last October, Mathews was pitted against Olympic gold medallist Luke Campbell on the back of a world title loss to Terry Flanagan and was taken out by two hurtful and crunching to the solar plexus.
On reflection, and having weighed up how the fight played out, Mathews came to the conclusion he still has plenty to offer after going down bravely against Campbell, who’s potentially a future world champion in his own right.
“Everything in camp went great for Luke Campbell, but it’s just the fact that I was hit by a perfect body shot,” explained Mathews. “There’s no taking that away from Luke as it was a great shot. If he hit any other lightweight in the country with that shot, it would have hurt them as well.
“It’s something I can’t take bad things away from. In my last two fights, I’ve been beaten by world-class opposition, so I know I’m still in the mix. I know I could go win the British title tomorrow with my eyes closed if I wanted to, either at 9st 9lbs or 10 stone – and win that outright too, but my ambition is higher than that.
“I want to be one step further than British level and winning the WBC Silver title against Ohara Davies would be the icing on the cake, but I don’t think he wants it to go ahead.”
Mathews has been involved in something of a social media spat with the undefeated Davies in recent weeks, although the pair are no closer to stepping foot in the ring despite the best efforts of the Liverpool man.
“He’s been the one saying all this stuff about me but deep down him and Eddie Hearn don’t want the fight. If he wanted any part of it, this fight would be on by now. Everybody can see he’s all talk but he wants people to think he’s a superstar without fighting real opponents.
“If what he’s said is what he really thinks, then that settles that, as he doesn’t want it now so he can stop tweeting crap about me and mentioning me all the time.
“What he needs to do is fight some real opponents as he’s been gifted that WBC title.”
Asked whether his sole focus will now with the 10-stone division, which Davies lays claims to being the best domestically, Mathews replied: “I can mix between those two weights or just go on what opportunities come.
“Personally, I’d like to fight at super-lightweight (10 stone) as I think I’d be big and strong for it, but again I can still make lightweight (9st 9lbs) so if a big fight comes at that weight – I’d take it. If no offers come in, I’d like to fight at 10 stone. I want to be a 10-stone fighter and show I can mix it with the best in that division.
“Whatever lightweight or super-lightweights want to fight, they only have to contact me or my manager.
“I could probably have another forty fights against journeymen but I don’t want to do that. I want to fight the best and I believe I’ve never ducked or dived anyone. I want to keep that way.
“I want to face good fighters and I’m thinking maybe March time – early or middle March, by then I’d be ready to fight anyone,” he added.