If we learned one thing this past weekend, it's this: men might be affected by jetlag but wrecking machines certainly aren't. And though he got in late this past week prior to his Saturday night assignment versus Lamont Peterson, Lucas Matthysse showed no ill effects of his long journey from Argentina to the States that saw him arrive in Atlantic City just a couple of days before the fight. What was supposed to be a competitive, hard-fought battle between two premier junior welterweights (fighting at the odd catchweight of 141 for administrative purposes related to the sanctioning bodies) became a third round blowout for Matthysse, who staked his claim as the world’s best 140-pounder.
“The Machine” is no myth.
Matthysse's close and disputed losses to Zab Judah and Devon Alexander are now distant memories. What sticks out in the minds of the boxing world is an absolute master of creating assault and battery inside that ring. He is as hard-hitting as he is calculating and cold. Showtime's Al Bernstein pointed out on the broadcast that in his last dozen bouts, Matthysse had racked up over 20 knockdowns. That final figure - after Peterson hit the deck for the last time - is now 24 knockdowns during this stretch. This is the greatest slugging percentage since Barry Bonds in the early-2000s.
Early on, Peterson boxed, using the perimeter of the ring in the first round. Conventional wisdom said Peterson had the advantage in versatility and was the more fluid athlete. But while that might have been true, the reality is that Peterson, at his best, is really a technically sound in-fighter whose greatest moments have been digging into the body with both hands and staying in the pocket. It seemed by the end of the opening stanza, Matthysse had already begun to adjust and adapt to Peterson's attempt at mobility.
In the second, a grazing left hook sent Peterson stumbling to the canvas. From there, you got the sense that what was thought to be a toss-up of a fight was becoming a one-sided affair. Matthysse has a brutal elegance to what he does. Don't let his strength and power fool you; there is a method to his madness. There is a certain precision to his tactics that are oftentimes overlooked because they are delivered with a sledgehammer. Peterson simply was not going to outbox Matthysse and unfortunately, he would soon get steamrolled as Matthysse ramped up the aggression.
In the third frame, a trading of left hands sent Peterson crashing to the canvas in the center of the ring. In the past, he's hit the floor but has never been this concussed. But he bravely rose and continued to fight yet was met with another quick onslaught and was on the seat of his trunks a few seconds later. Referee Steve Smoger, who would let a piñata take a beating till every last Jolly Rancher or Tootsie Roll was on the floor, didn't even feel the need to start the mandatory eight-count. This fight was over.
It was a stunning display of sweet savagery.
It had Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer mic-jacking Jim Gray of Showtime as if he were Kanye West and proclaiming he was the next Manny Pacquiao. Uh, OK, maybe we shouldn't crown him to that degree just yet but on this night against the respected Peterson (who never came close to getting stopped in 33 previous professional bouts), he substantiated who many suspected he was - and that just might be the baddest man in a loaded division. Watching ringside was Danny Garcia, who holds the WBC and WBA straps and is supposedly in line to defend against Matthysse on September 7th.
Well, at least that's the plan from Showtime (which is holding this date) and Golden Boy which has clearly stated its intentions in the past of staging its own version of a junior welterweight tournament. At the post-fight press conference, Schaefer announced he is holding the Verizon Center in Washington D.C. on that date for this particular fight and perhaps an undercard bout between Peterson and Zab Judah.
Now, the onus is on one Al Haymon, who advises both Matthysse and Garcia, to pull the trigger and make the fight a reality.
There are some who won’t believe the fight actually takes place till those two are in the center of the ring touching gloves. Does Garcia really want any part of “The Machine” knowing down the line, he could be in the running for a lucrative payday against Floyd Mayweather?
After this past weekend, Chuck Norris might not even want part of Matthysse.
Regardless, Matthysse is no longer a mystery or an unproven entity, overrated by the diehard followers of the sport. No, he may never reach the pinnacle of the “Pac-Man” in terms of stardom (that's rarified air that few reach) but it's clear he has clearly arrived on many levels. He has now become must-see-TV for boxing fans. At age 30, Matthysse's in the thick of his athletic and earning prime. The next few years should be fun.
There was an announced crowd of 4,215 at Boardwalk Hall, which hosted Matthysse-Peterson. Some of my colleagues there ringside in Atlantic City swore there couldn't have been any more than 2,500 fans in the building with some even moved down into the lower sections of the arena.
What's interesting is if Matthysse would have faced someone else in Argentina and Lamont Peterson had done the same in Washington D.C., they would have each drawn bigger crowds separately (Peterson sold nearly 4,000 tickets back in February when he returned to the ring against Kendall Holt at the D.C. Armory as the headliner on ESPN2's “Friday Night Fights”). It's a shame given this match-up was so anticipated by boxing fans here and abroad.
Other than Bernard Hopkins, does any fighter or fight really draw well in this area? The glory days of Arturo Gatti are now a distant memory in Atlantic City.
It was a busy weekend for boxing, which saw fights from all over the globe. Some random thoughts on what took place...
- After four long years, Shane Mosley got back into the win column with a hard-fought decision over Pablo Cesar Cano in Nick Van Exel's favorite off-season hangout in Cancun, Mexico. Mosley, back with his original trainer, father Jack, seemed to punch with much more authority than he had recently (perhaps that had something to do with who he was facing, realistically) but this was an entertaining scrap that heated up late. Now, you could argue that Mosley winning is the worst thing for his long-term health. No argument here but the reality is, he will fight another day (or two).
And I wouldn't be stunned to see Mosley perhaps face the winner of the June 22nd bout between WBA welterweight titlist Paulie Malignaggi and Adrien Broner. Hey, hey, hey, no need to kill the messenger but hear me out. He's still a recognizable name and the fact is Mosley was thiiiiiiiiiis close to facing Malignaggi at the Barclays Center earlier this year.
So can you honestly say it's out of the realm of possibility?
- Yes, Felix Verdejo is doing what is expected of him in blowing out the likes of Corben Page but this youngster, who juuuust turned 20 years old, is seemingly making strides each fight. He is really beginning to punch with a lot of leverage and momentum. He has the classic, lanky puncher's build and he seems to be getting acclimated very quickly to the pro ranks. Looking at his frame, I can see Verdejo one day competing very easily at 140 pounds and beyond.
Here's the ticket info for the July 13th card at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York featuring Bernard Hopkins defending his light heavyweight title against IBF mandatory Karo Murat (from a GBP press release):
Tickets priced at $200, $100, $50 and $25, plus applicable taxes, fees and services charges, go on sale tomorrow, Monday, May 20 at 10:00 a.m. and may be purchased at www.barclayscenter.com, www.ticketmaster.com, all Ticketmaster locations or by calling 800-745-3000. Beginning Tuesday, May 21 at 10:00 a.m., tickets will be available for purchase at the American Express Box Office at Barclays Center. For group tickets, please call 800-GROUP-BK.
There's no way we're getting Floyd Mayweather vs. Devon Alexander in the fall; right?...Saw a great little club fight at the Doubletree Hotel in Ontario on Friday night between Victor Sanchez and Richard Contreras that had some incredible back-and-forth action before Contreras’ corner stopped the fight after the sixth....I like the Heat in six over the Pacers and the Grizzlies over the Spurs in seven...