The 33 year-old, who is eyeing at run at super-lightweight this year, defeated Crolla via sixth round stoppage in 2012 before battling to an entertaining draw in the return at the Echo Arena almost twelve months later.
Since then, Crolla has gone on to win and defend world honours impressively, until running into Linares last November and dropping his lightweight title via a decision at home in Manchester Arena.
Mathews believes a third bout with Crolla has every opportunity to happen should ‘Million Dollar’ once again be edged out by the Venezuelan in the spring, although the ex-interim world champion expects a revenge win to unfold and dash his hopes for 2017.
“If Crolla loses, we could fight at 10 stone or I could drop back down,” Mathews exclusively explained to World Boxing News.
“But if he manages to beat Linares and become world lightweight champion again, he’s not going to come near me, let’s be honest. I’d be realistic about that. If he wins, he should fight Terry Flanagan anyway. He would probably have the option of fighting Luke Campbell too (who’s at Matchroom with Crolla), but there’s loads of options for him and he can pick who he wants. If he wins, he’ll be in the driving seat but I can’t see us fighting again unless he loses to Linares. I’m here though and the phone will always be on for him.”
“If he wins, he’ll be in the driving seat but I can’t see us fighting again unless he loses to Linares. I’m here though and the phone will always be on for him.”
Regarding the actual Linares v Crolla II contest, Mathews added: “I’ve already stated I think Crolla can win the rematch.
“I think the first fight look a lot out of both fighters, but I think Crolla is a fresher man. I just don’t think Joe Gallagher got the tactics spot on last time. I expect he’ll change then this time and I think Crolla is going to win.
“I hope he does as it’s good for boxing and the British public. We’ve obviously got a bit of a grudge going on because of boxing, but I always like to see a British fighter win titles and earn good money, so I wish him all the luck in the rematch.”
Another option, especially as ‘Dirty’ Derry is now on the lookout for a big fight at 140 pounds, is Tommy Coyle – whom Mathews defeated via tenth round knockout on the back of the Crolla draw in 2013.
“Me and Tommy Coyle are good mates. On a business side, if it makes good money and it sells good tickets, why not? I think Tommy would say the same. We are both businessmen and I’m here to earn as much money as I can and to have the bests fights I can,” he said.
“Tommy’s got a tough fight in Kofi Yates (on February 25 in Hull) to get through, though. Kofi is a great fighter who could cause an upset so we’ll have to see what happens with that first.
“But you never know what’s around the corner and I’ll mix it with the best.”
Asked what could lie in his immediate future and whether he plans to stay with Frank Warren, Mathews replied: “I’ve got a great relationship with Frank Warren and MGM guide me wherever I go.
“If Frank wants me to fight on his shows, that’s what I’ll do. Frank doesn’t hold me back and lets me go wherever I want to. Frank always thinks of me and I know he’ll look after me, at the end of the day.
“My next fight has to be a big fight. I don’t want to get out of bed every morning to run at half five for a four or six round fight. I want to get back in the mix and be in a proper fight.”