By Ian Aldous: On Saturday March 17th, defending British cruiserweight champion, Matty Askin (22-3-1), looks to retain his title against Stephen Simmons (18-2), at the iconic boxing venue of York Hall, Bethnal Green in London. In May of last year, Askin scored the biggest win of his career with a devastating KO win over Craig Kennedy to claim the vacant cruiserweight strap. This year he looks to build on that and move on to even bigger things. Last week, the man from sunny Blackpool in North-West, England took some time to talk with me over the phone.
IA: March 17th, at the iconic York Hall in London – it’s a fight that was supposed to happen last year. What are your thoughts on Stephen Simmons and the threat he brings to you and your British title?
MA: He’s very lively early on. He’s aggressive, he comes forward. But, I just think my style’s perfect for him. I won’t have to go looking for him. It’ll make for a great fight for however long it lasts.
IA: It was a tendon tear in your right shoulder that scuppered the original date with Simmons. That meant that you fought only once in 2017. Are you desperate to make 2018 a busier year?
MA: Definitely. I want to be out as often as I can this year. I’m twenty-nine now, so I’ve only got a good three (or) four years left in me. I want to be trying to achieve everything that I’ve set out to do. This year has got to be a big year and a busy year.
IA: One guy that’s said he wants to fight you is Luke Watkins. He wants to unify your British belt with his commonwealth cruiserweight title. Is that a fight that appeals to you? You guys have had some twitter interaction.
MA: He just talks [expletive], to be fair. He’s saying he wants the fight, so we say ‘yeah, we’ll have the fight’ and then I don’t know what’s happening (with him). The Watkins fight – it can be done. They’ve just got to say ‘yeah’, it’s as simple as that. We want the fight and I’d love to put the commonwealth title to the rest of the ones I’ve won so far.
IA: Let’s talk about the night you defeated Craig Kennedy for the British title at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff. What was going through your mind when you dropped him so heavily less than two minutes into the fight?
MA: Nothing was stopping me going into that fight that night – I could’ve fought anyone. I was really focused and I knew that I’d put the work in. I just wanted to get in there and do a number on him – and I did. I didn’t think I’d drop him that early on, but I knew that I would catch him at some point. I think that just set the tone for the fight then.
IA: He never recovered, were you surprised he even survived that first round?
MA: Yeah, I was. I thought I’ll get him out of here because I jumped all over him and, to be fair, he stuck it out in the second – I caught him with some big shots and he took them well. He thought ‘[expletive] that’ (laughs) and just went on a wild goose chase, I was having to go and find him. That’s something I won’t have to do with Simmons.
IA: You eventually finished him in the sixth round. Give me an idea of the relief and joy you were feeling at winning the title on enemy territory on Channel 5 here in the UK.
MA: When I was in there, I said to my coach, Mike Jennings, ‘do you know what? I’m not really arsed about the belt. I just want to provide a decent life for my little family that I’ve got’. He said ‘trust me mate, when you win it – you’ll feel it’. When it was game over, I got welled up and I thought ‘[bleep] hell’ it meant a lot more to me than I actually thought. It was weird.
IA: Was it a possibility in your mind that you would have considered retirement if you’d not won the title that night?
MA: (laughs) [Bleep] more than likely, to be fair mate. If I’m not beating (opponents) at this level – I’m not going to be [bleep] doing well at higher levels, do you know what I mean? I’m plodding on and I seem to be hitting a good rhythm.
IA: What are the end goals for Matty Askin? Do you look to win the Lonsdale belt outright, or maybe the European championship? Or do you just take each fight as it comes?
MA: You sit at home and you’ve got a mortgage and whatnot. You think ‘I need to be paying this house off’. You know, just something that you think ‘I didn’t do too bad there, I’ve got no mortgage’. For me, I think a world title would be an absolute dream for me. It’s doable as long as I keep putting in the performances that I have been over the last two years.
IA: British cruiserweights like David Haye and Tony Bellew have moved up to the glamour division of boxing – heavyweight. You’ve fought at over 200lbs before, is it something you’d ever consider doing?
MA: I’m naturally a big lad. I walk around at about (219/220lbs) anyway. It’s a possibility, but it wouldn’t be without making sure I’ve achieved everything I possibly can at cruiser. So, that’s the way I look at it. I have to make sure that if I’m stepping up into the big lads, I’ve got to make sure I’ve got all the tools necessary because they’re not exactly small anymore, are they?
IA: They’re almost like super-heavyweights now (laughs). Finally, give me and the fans an idea of what’s going to happen on March 31st.
MA: I’ll just punch his head off (laughs), it’s as simple as that. I’ll go and meet him straight in the middle of that ring and I’m absolutely going to rip his jaw off. Once I’m in that ring, [bleep] me, he’s going to get a hiding. It’s as simple as that (laughs), that’s the only way I can put it. It’s a fight, isn’t it? I won’t be doing all this back foot [bleep] – it’ll be straight in the middle (of the ring) and if he gets past round one, lucky for him because he’ll get another hiding in round two.
You can follow Matty on twitter: @mattyaskin