It’s Still Showtime for Matthysse
By Steve Kim, MaxBoxing (Sept 8, 2012) Doghouse Boxing (Photo © Tom Casino / SHOWTIME)
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WHAM-O Super-Ball
Even though the bout between IBF welterweight titleholder Randall Bailey (who suffered a back injury) and Devon Alexander has been pushed back, Showtime (9 p.m., ET/PT) decided to move forward with its card on Saturday night. The new main event from the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas is a tussle for the interim WBC junior welterweight title between Lucas Matthysse and Ajose Olusegun. It says here that while Matthysse is just now fighting for a version of a belt, this very minute, “The Machine” is the world’s best 140-pounder.
 
Yeah, I said it.
 
And when you say it to him, the hard-hitting but humble Argentinean says (through Golden Boy Promotions publicist Ramiro Gonzalez), “It’s really a pleasure that you say that about me but honestly, I’m going to prove that on Saturday. But it’s a great compliment and I need to go out there and prove it.”

Currently Matthysse’s record stands at 31-2 with 29 knockouts. But if you ask most unbiased observers, they might say those two blemishes on his record against the likes of Zab Judah and Devon Alexander were fights where he had done more than enough to come out victorious. Unfortunately, he was on foreign soil for both those fights. Yeah, cry for me, Argentina.
 
“Let me be honest with you; yes, I think I beat both guys. I’ve seen the video for both fights many times and I’ve come to the conclusion that, yes, I beat both guys,” he stated. So does he have any regrets in coming to America and playing his trade? “I felt very bad about both those decisions because I thought I won both fights. But I never regret that decision to come to the United States. When they called me to fight one more time, I said yes because the United States is the first level for boxing. It’s a whole ‘nother level; most of the best fighters are over here in the United States and I’m here because I’m a fighter and I’ll take the good with the bad. Like I said, I felt very bad with those decisions because I know I won those fights. But I’m here again.”
 
Many foreign fighters dream of fighting in the U.S. but for Matthysse, it was just a part of the process. “I’ve always dreamed to fight for a world title but eventually, I fought in the United States, which is very good and I’m fighting for the title. It’s another good thing for myself but my dream was to fight for a world title anywhere. But it’s happening in the United States, which is even better for me.”
 
Matthysse will perhaps never be a true draw in this country but he has an exciting, fan-friendly style that resonates across the board. There are certain things that translate across cultural and nationalistic lines; one of them is a guy who just comes across the ring, hunts you down with constant pressure and then assaults you. It’s a beautiful brutality that he exhibits in the ring. He’s cold-blooded like an assassin and relentless as a bill collector. You almost couldn’t imagine him in a bad fight, which is why, at the very least, Matthysse will always make for good TV. In an era of pound-for-pound skill mavens who box more to avoid losing than actually ever taking a risk inside the ring, Matthysse and his ilk are needed more than ever in this business. His outings aren’t “important” - they’re actually fun and memorable. 
 
Imagine that.
 
And this weekend, he takes on the rugged and undefeated Olusegun, 30-0 (14). Unlike other fighters who have been shamefully allowed to duck this guy - with the blessing of the WBC - Matthysse had no reservations in facing him. Truth is, as of now, he’s not the type of guy who is even afforded this luxury or option. He admits, “I don’t know much about him; we’ve seen a few things on the internet. We know he’s a southpaw; he has a little speed but honestly, we don’t know anything else.”
 
It should be a tough night at the office. If anything, Olusegun is tough and awkward. A victory should put Matthysse - who’s coming off a five-round thrashing of the usually durable Humberto Soto in June - in good position heading into next year. He’s part of what is a very deep, diverse and talented 140-pound class. At just 29 years old, the Buenos Aires banger will be right in the mix for years to come.
 
“I feel very, very strong, mentally and physically, and I know I’m going to win,” he stated, “and then, yes, I’m looking for the best fights. I don’t have any names specifically; I don’t have any opponents that I want or any champions. I just want the best fights in 2013.”
 
SHUFFLE
 
The bout between WBC super bantamweight beltholder Abner Mares and the highly regarded Anselmo Moreno has bounced around more than a Super Ball (remember those things?). Originally, it was scheduled to take place on October 13th at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, then switched to October 27th at the Honda Center in Anaheim (so it wouldn’t get overshadowed by the HBO card at the Home Depot Center). According to Lance Pugmire of the L.A. Times on Thursday afternoon, Mares-Moreno has now landed on November 10th at the Staples Center in Los Angeles (http://www.latimes.com/-boxing-mares-angulo).
 
This means this little gem of a fight could be going up against a Top Rank pay-per-view card on that same evening in Las Vegas in what looks to be another missile lobbed in the “Cold War”-gone-nuclear between Golden Boy and Top Rank. But to be fair, Golden Boy and Showtime had originally planned on moving this card to November 10th but then backed off when it looked like Manny Pacquiao would be fighting on this night. But as the “Pac-Man” waffled more than an Eggo, Golden Boy naturally jumped on the chance to return to the Staples Center where they have staged a number of events with varying degrees of success. I’ll say it again; yeah, it’s great when there’s more quality boxing (with the emphasis on “quality”) but a match-up like Mares-Moreno deserves as much of the spotlight as possible (as of now, Top Rank has a bunch of TBAs vs. TBDs on this date). It has to be noted that when Mares faced Joseph Agbeko for the second time at the Honda Center on December 3rd, right around a thousand tickets were sold as this card was completely overshadowed by the pay-per-view rematch between Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito at Madison Square Garden.
 
Bob Arum tells Maxboxing that they still plan on doing a show of some sort on November 10th.
 
LOGJAM
 
Listen, I completely respect that Pacquiao wants to take his time and make the best deal for himself as it relates to his next outing. He’s earned that right; he’s meant so much to the sport and the business of boxing and guys like him, they’ve absolutely earned the right to play by their own rules. But really, it’s coming to that point where he’s now holding up a lot of people with his indecision and he should - for want of a better word - piss or get off the pot.
 
Because there are networks, boxers, promoters, managers, trainers and venues waiting to see what their next steps will be - but they can’t do anything till it’s decided when (or is it really “if”?) Pacquiao decides who to fight. From there, hook-ups like Orlando Salido-Mikey Garcia, Erislandy Lara-Vanes Martirosyan, Miguel Vazquez-Mercito Gesta among others need to find dates and networks on which to land. And until Pacquiao makes up his mind, none of this can or will happen. Yeah, there’s a lot of lunacy in this business but nobody is crazy enough to really want to go up against a Pacquiao event. And then there’s the whole issue of December 8th - the third date Pacquiao has chosen to fight on - where it looks like Saul “Canelo” Alvarez will perform to end the year (of course, he still has to get by Josesito Lopez next week in Las Vegas).
 
There is some speculation that perhaps Pacquiao really doesn’t want to fight during the remainder of 2012. That’s certainly his right but, really, can he make up his mind, one way or the other? Arum told me on Thursday afternoon that “significant progress” been made regarding Pacquiao’s next fight. Perhaps it’s just coded phrase for “Another week has gone by.”
 
FINAL FLURRIES
 
I’ll say it again, Matthysse-Olusegun is the fight I’m most looking forward to this weekend. And forget Sasha Vujacic; this guy is truly “The Machine”...Glad to hear that one of my all-time favorites, Mark “Too Sharp” Johnson, will be the analyst for Showtime’s broadcast this weekend alongside Mauro Ranallo...It looks like Showtime/CBS is still planning on showcasing the debuts of the 2012 Olympians on October 13th... Lots of boxing on this Saturday from WealthTV, FoxDeportes, Telefutura, Azteca, HBO and Showtime. Yeah, my DVR will be in overdrive...Big litmus test for UCLA against Nebraska this weekend in the Rose Bowl...Can the Al Golden ‘Canes go to the “Lil Apple” and come out with an upset win over K-State?...I thought this past season of “Hard Knocks” on HBO with the ‘Phins was the best thus far. The access granted was better than ever...Now the countdown has begun for the return of “Boardwalk Empire”...

 
More of Steve's recent work below his contact info...
Steve can be reached at k9kim@yahoo.com and he tweets (and enjoys “Competitive Tweeting”) at www.twitter.com/stevemaxboxing. We also have a Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/MaxBoxing.

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