While it may not draw 40,000
fans and have a worldwide audience or a million pay-per-view buys (or less,
depending on who you ask), this weekend, Showtime (9 p.m., ET/PT) just might have
the best pure fight on its schedule when a junior welterweight (plus one pound)
showdown takes place at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City between Lucas
Matthysse and Lamont Peterson.
For the hard-hitting Argentinean,
this could begin the march that cements his claim as the world’s best
“This is one of the big
ones,” he said to Maxboxing through Golden Boy Promotions publicist Ramiro
Gonzalez, while still in his native country. “This is one of the best. Lamont
Peterson is a good fighter and, yes, this is one of the ones I was expecting.”
The winner of this fight is
expected to face WBC beltholder Danny Garcia, on September 7th. And
to perhaps to help make that a reality, it was announced last week that Matthysse
had signed on with influential adviser Al Haymon (who just happens to also
represent Garcia, among many others). Say whatever you will about Haymon; the
man gets things done. Ask Austin Trout, who at this point last year, was an
anonymous figure to the general public. Now, he's coming off back-to-back bouts
with Miguel Cotto and Saul Alvarez.
Matthysse is a guy who quite
frankly brings a bit too much risk for not all that much reward. He needs a guy
like Haymon. They both speak softly and both carry big sticks in their own ways.
“That's what I'm expecting;
that's what I've been waiting for. We signed with him because we expect to get
the best fights. I have a great team but adding Al Haymon is going to be great
for my career,” he states.
But first things first. He
has a tall hurdle to overcome in Peterson, who returned to the ring in February
by impressively dispatching Kendall Holt in eight. Like Matthysse, Peterson
isn't afraid of a fight and banging to the body. He rates several notches
higher than Mike Dallas, who “The Machine” steamrolled in one back in January
in his 2013 debut. “I consider him one of the best fighters at 140. He's a good
fighter. He has power. He has speed. But I'm very well-prepared always, so I'm
expecting to win. I don't come to the United States to lose. I'm coming to win,”
said Matthysse, who has a record of 33-2 with 31 knockouts and could make an
argument that he is actually undefeated. Many pundits and fans believe he did
more than enough to get his hands raised versus Zab Judah and Devon Alexander.
Once again, he finds himself
facing a well-known American fighter on U.S. soil.
Matthysse states, “I'm not
going to leave anything to the judges. I'm going to come with everything. I'm
going to do my job and I'm very confident the referee is going to raise my
While not officially a
unification tilt, a win over Peterson would be considered a victory over another
blue-chip beltholder in the division. The goal in 2013 is to consolidate one of
the deepest weight classes in all of boxing.
“I'm going to stay there till
my body asks me to stay up,” he says. “Right now, I plan on cleaning up the
And whoever should come out
of this division as the ruler immediately throws himself into the mix to face
Floyd Mayweather down the line.
“I think it's a natural
conversation, whoever emerges from that scrum: Garcia, Peterson, Matthysse, [Marcos]
Maidana or anybody. That is a natural,” said Stephen Espinoza, head of Showtime
Sports, “because if you're the guy who emerged from that pool of killer talent,
then you're a guy to be taken seriously against Mayweather.”
But we should just all sit
back and enjoy what takes place this weekend. There's no need for the hard sell
here. This is a premiere match-up in every way: two world-class practitioners with
fan-friendly styles and a lot at stake.
Can you think of a better
fight that's on the board?
“I can't think of one,” said
Espinoza, who admittedly might be a tad biased. “It's one of those where I
don't think you'll need a referee. The guys are going to meet at the center of
the ring and sit there and hit each other as hard as they can. So that's one
where it's as close as you can get to a guaranteed barnburner.”
Matthysse is expecting
battle in the trenches.
“We don't watch that many
videos of other fighters but I saw [Peterson]’s last fight and I see that he's
very solid. He doesn't move much. He's right there,” he points out. “That's
what I'm expecting, for him to be right there with me, not running.”
It seems that while Garcia
vs. Matthysse is a fight very much anticipated by the hardcore boxing fan, it's
struggling at the box-office where a lot of tickets are still available for
this Saturday night (http://www.ticketmaster.com/event/02004A79E898AE9C
It goes to show that
regardless of how good a certain fight may be, geography is still very
important. Matthysse simply isn't going to draw in America. His countryman,
Sergio Martinez, had problems as the A-side - even as the Undisputed Middleweight
Champion - before finally playing to a full house against Julio Cesar Chavez
Jr. last September.
If this event was in
Washington D.C. - where Peterson has proven to be a consistent draw - you could
safely assume you'd have a crowd of between 10-to-15,000. But there was
absolutely no way given Matthysse's tough luck in the past (and the
controversies that always seem to accompany the D.C. commission) that this
event was going to land in our nation’s capital.
But this should go down as
lesson for all of boxing. When commissions are run haphazardly, the risk of
losing events in their jurisdictions becomes more prevalent and the whole
business of boxing suffers.
For much of his bout against
Ricky Burns, it looked like Puerto Rican Jose A. Gonzalez would be returning
back to the island of Puerto Rico as not only the newly-minted WBO lightweight
champion but a conquering hero. Then almost inexplicably (and much to the chagrin
of his cornermen and promoter, Peter Rivera), Gonzalez called it quits after
the ninth inning, citing a broken right hand. It turned out he was ahead 87-84
on all three scorecards at the time.
He was so close yet so far.
But I'm not here to pile on
Gonzalez. Yeah, I realize the part of the fighter’s oath in taking up this
sport is to fight through a reasonable amount of hardship. Certainly others
have soldiered on through much worse (Tyrell Biggs comes to mind, immediately).
The harsh reality is that whatever pain he may have felt in his right hand on
Saturday in Glasgow, Scotland, will most likely pale in comparison to the type
of derision he will feel back home. This is a stigma Gonzalez may never shake
Puerto Rico is a region that
still cares very much about boxing and its boxers. When a big prizefight takes
place out there, it's front page news. Puerto Ricans are passionate about the “Sweet
Science.” It's a part of their national identity and their fighters just don't fight
for themselves; they fight for their whole country.
And Gonzalez may have just
shamed them all.
Right now, Puerto Rico is at
a low ebb in terms of boxing. The twilight of Miguel Cotto's career is upon
them and it'll be a few years before the full development of Felix Verdejo. In
between them is one major beltholder, Rocky Martinez, the WBO 130-pound titlist.
And Cotto, the fighter, is much better than Cotto, the promoter. His company's
roster, save for perhaps Braulio Santos, is filled with JAGs and Team Indian
Casino…er…Team Puerto Rico isn't much better.
Gonzalez could've helped
fill this vacuum existing on the island and created a nice, lucrative niche for
himself. Instead, he may now be a fistic pariah there.
Vic Darchinyan got stunned
once or twice by the game Javier Gallo but he was able to stop him in four. the
“Raging Bull” has always been in pretty entertaining scraps...Oscar Valdez, who
scored a first round TKO on that same card in Laredo, TX, looks to return on
June 15th in Dallas on the Mikey Garcia-Juan Manuel Lopez
card...Lightweight Baha “Fresh” Mamadjinov has signed a promotional deal with
Don King...The June 7th edition of ESPN2’s “Friday Night Fights”
will feature a interesting match-up between Johnny Molina and Andrey Klimov...The
Pacers-Knicks series reminds me of playoff basketball from the ‘90s after
Michael Jordan's first retirement - and that's not a good thing...Loving the
clash of styles and adjustments between the Spurs and Warriors…R.I.P. to Johnny Bos. A real boxing guy if
there ever was one...
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