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Maidstone boxer Chris Matthews will have to rough up friend and former sparring partner Jack Budge in Southern Area title fight

By Craig Tucker

Chris Matthews says he'll need to rough up his old sparring partner when they meet for the Southern Area featherweight title.

Matthews (10-2) faces stablemate Jack Budge (4-0) at Maidstone Leisure Centre for the vacant belt on Saturday, April 27.

The pair are friends but business is business and Maidstone boxer Matthews knows what's required to triumph and send his home crowd away happy.

Chris Matthews on his way to victory against Uzzy Ahemad last time out Picture: Countrywide Photographic
Chris Matthews on his way to victory against Uzzy Ahemad last time out Picture: Countrywide Photographic

He's been working hard with trainer Johnny Armour on ways to beat Medway man Budge in what's believed to be the first all-Kent title fight to be staged in the county.

Matthews, 24, said: "I'm going to have to rough him up a bit, I reckon.

"He's my old sparring partner, as an amateur and a pro.

"We go back quite a few years. I'm friends with him. He's a nice bloke.

"It's the first time I'll have fought a friend but you can't think about that when you're in the ring.

"Jonny's been watching him and he's been teaching me things and showing me things.

"I need to keep on him and keep throwing punches.

"He panics when you keep on him. I found that in sparring as well."

Both boxers are signed to JE Sports Network, with promoter Joe Elfidh describing it as a 50:50 fight.

Budge is confident he'll win but Matthews is more than capable of taking the belt.

Maidstone boxer Chris Matthews Picture: Countrywide Photographic
Maidstone boxer Chris Matthews Picture: Countrywide Photographic

He said: "Joe offered me the fight and I said, 'I'll take it.' You can't turn down a title fight.

"It's going to be a tough fight but I think I'll be able to do it.

"Jack thinks he'll win. I've read what he says. I'll just see how it goes on the night.

"I'm topping the bill for the first time, there's a lot of people going and I feel all right.

"I just have to box and rough him up.

"I've been doing a lot more training, a lot more running for the 10 rounds, so I should be fit enough.

"It's a good belt to have. It can open doors."

Matthews' brother, Dave, is set to make his pro debut on the show, while another Maidstone fighter, Lenny Fuller, is going for a sixth straight win.

Other Kent boxers in action are Jack Raines (5-0), Danny Barrett (2-0), Paul Brown (3-0), Martin Hillman (13-6) and debutants Jimmy Peckham and Jordan Smith.

Tickets cost £40 for general seating or £60 at ringside and are available from Ray Matthews on 07511 680092.

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