Article by Declan Taylor
But while Cristiano Ronaldo and his mob ran riot at Anfield to break Merseyside hearts, it is a couple of Liverpool idols who are returning from sunny Spain to put a few smiles back on local faces.
You might think Marbella is all about big watches, breast implants and an insistence on wasting large amounts of expensive champagne. In a way, you’d be right.
And this week two of the gym’s stars, Tom Stalker and Derry Mathews, are returning home from to Liverpool from the Spanish coast to feature on the 13-fight Frank Warren bill at the Echo Arena.
The card is part of one of the busiest Saturday nights of boxing in memory, with shows up and down the country – even in Monte Carlo – broadcast on four different platforms in the UK.
And it says it all that there is no fight more intriguing than ‘Captain’ Stalker’s with north-west rival and fellow unbeaten hope Jack Catterall.
Credit must go to Warren for pitching the two prospects, both 9-0, against each other so early in their careers – and the match up does a lot for the bill, which was delivered a cruel blow when Paul Butler’s top-of-the-bill world title clash with Zolani Tete was pulled.
Speaking exclusively to iFL TV, Stalker told James: “A lot of fighters don’t have these fights until a lot later in their careers.
“Respect to Jack, I think he’s a top fighter but he’s going to be losing on Saturday night – I’m 100 per cent confident. I’ve had a great camp at the MGM – all I’ve got to do is concentrate on my boxing”
And there’s no love lost between the pair going by iFL TV’s tense head-to-head footage. Stalker explained: “I just said to him ‘you’re not knocking no-one out’. He’s getting a bit carried away over his last performance because he stopped Nathan (Brough).
“I’ve done 60-80 rounds sparring with him. You can’t go off sparring of course but I’ve been more than happy every time I’ve sparred him.”
But it seems Catterall is also confident after moving around with Stalker. He added: “I can’t really take too much from sparring but I know I can hurt him. I’ve had five stoppages, I’m not going to look for the knock-out but if it comes it comes.
“He had a big reputation in the amateurs but not as a professional so it’s going to be good on Saturday night.”
As for Mathews, it is a huge night for many different reasons. The 31-year-old is part of a bustling 135lb scene in Britain at the minute – and mouth-watering showdowns with the likes of Kevin Mitchell and Anthony Crolla are mooted for next year.
But he knows he’ll have to wave goodbye to those big nights if he fails to get past Adam Dingsdale, who is also vying to break into the top level.
At just 26, Dingsdale is 11-1, with his only defeat coming at the hands of Stephen Ormond – another big name in the lightweight mix – 12 months ago.
So is Derry looking past this one? He told James: “I’ve done that in the past and one thing I haven’t done with Adam Dingsdale is look past him. He’s from a good stable, a good camp and he’s got a good amateur pedigree. But I grew up in the best amateur gym in the world.
“I punch twice as hard as him, I’m more skilful and I’m more experienced. I’m knocking on the door for something big I know I am.”
Dingsdale, meanwhile, said: “It’s a huge opportunity for me, Derry Mathews is a big name. I can’t wait to go in there and get the best win of my career. I’m boxing someone I’m a bit of a fan of. It’s time to step up.”
Even though it’s not for the second world title that he so desperately craves, Butler is still out in Liverpool – against Ismael Garnica over 10 threes – and says he’s bounced back from the disappointment thanks to an old Australian favourite.
He told James: “I didn’t even want to be in the gym for the first week and a half after Tete pulled out – I felt like I was training for nothing.
“But Michael Katsidis came to spar – the great that he is – and we did a few rounds and that got the bit between my teeth again and I got that buzz back. Thanks to Michael Katsidis.”
Hometown favourites Liam Smith, Kevin Satchell and Jazza Dickens are all also in action, as is the talented and still unbeaten Liam Williams, fresh from that superb stoppage of Ronnie Heffron in July.
And also don’t take your eyes off Chris Eubank Junior who is fighting too, despite being offered £20k by Billy Joe Saunders not to risk it. Saunders, Frank Warren, you, my mum, my gran, your dog and the rest of the country will be praying that fight goes smoothly with ‘Bad Blood’ just five weeks away.