Matthews takes heart from march to the final

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Emotional Robbie Matthews reflected on his ABA Championship final loss and insisted: I wanted to do you all proud.

The Heart of Portsmouth man went down to the gutsiest of defeats against multi-title winner Josh Leather.

Leather took a unanimous verdict in the 60kg clash at York Hall in Bethnal Green.

But that didn’t tell the story of the bout in which Matthews bravely took the contest to his classy Wellington ABA opponent.

Matthews revealed he had boxed through the championships with a hand injury picked up in the opening round against Leigh Park’s Shane Govan.

There was never a suggestion of him not boxing in the final at the home of British boxing, though.

And the man who admitted he joined HOP in the hope of picking up a regional title, knew he could be pleased to step out in an ABA final.

Matthews said: ‘I’m gutted, but I knew he was good and I was a proper underdog.

‘I gave my all and the opinion was I did everyone proud. That was what I wanted to do.

‘If someone said two years ago I was going to be in the ABA final, I would have laughed at them.

‘I had a bad knuckle and was advised to pull out. That was never going to happen.

‘I put the effort in and just fell short. But I’m delighted to be here.’

There was no doubt about the outcome of the contest as Leather showed impeccable timing, use of range and boxed in flurries.

But the manner in which Matthews refused to be fazed impressed, as he stuck to his game plan.

The HOP captain then upped the pressure in the third, blazing forward and stalking Leather to the final bell.

The performance showed Matthews belongs at this lofty level and the emotional hug with trainers Q Shillingford and Colin Williams also spoke volumes.

Matthews said: ‘It’s a team effort at Heart of Portsmouth.

‘My coaches said that no matter what they were proud of me. That meant a lot.’

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