Gavin Rees faces Derry Mathews in European defence

Gavin Rees won the European lightweight title against Andrew Murray in April
Rees won the European lightweight title against Andrew Murray in April

Welsh fighter Gavin Rees will defend his European lightweight title against Derry Mathews on 23 July in Cardiff.

Ex-WBA champion Rees returns to the Motorpoint Arena having claimed the vacant European belt with an unanimous points win over Andrew Murray in April.

Mathews, 27, comes into the fight on the back of two first-round stoppages over George Watson and Amir Unsworth.

The Unsworth win saw Mathews crowned English champ, while the Liverpudlian also holds the IBO International belt.

Matthews beat Scott Lawton in January for that vacant IBO title, avenging his 2009 defeat against the same opponent.

Promoter Eddie Hearn believes that the best course now for Rees is to keep busy and aim to get back to the world heights he reached in 2007.

"I don't believe in the word 'inactivity' and at 31 and as a former champion of the world, Gavin is as ready as he will ever be to launch an attack on the lightweight division," Hearn said.

"The Derry Mathews fight sets up to be a classic. I know how much this shot means to Derry, he is a great guy and deserves it - he won't leave anything in the ring on the 23rd."

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