Alan Dawson – London
Junior welterweight contender Lucas Matthysse, 29, knocked down June 23 opponent Humberto Soto, 32, at the end of the fifth round of their STAPLES Center duel in Los Angeles and, in so doing, claimed a stunning stoppage win. Soto enjoyed an early superiority over Matthysse but, as the contest wore on, Humberto began to trade but relinquished the upper-hand – and victory – to the Argentine. With the win, Matthysse captured the vacant WBC Continental Americas title.
Official verdict: Matthysse by way of KO.
“With my team we worked hard, trained hard, we knew we had to win by knockout,” said Matthysse to Showtime. “This is the best one [performance] because this didn’t go to the judges. [In my next fight] I just want the opportunity to fight whoever.”
Prospective opponents may not willingly align themselves with Matthysse (31-2-0, 29ko) as the Buenos Aires native’s power was the decisive factor, yet, during the initial jousting, he did show mild vulnerability as Soto (58-8-2, 34ko) out-boxed him.
With a body clad in decorative ink and boxing in baby blue trunks, Matthysse began the fight perhaps encumbered by his role as the favourite. Underdog Soto boxed positively, popped his jab out, sent in wide shots and parried Matthysse’s lead incoming punches. Lucas, a heavy-hitting Argentine, grew confidence late in the opening session, though, and showed Soto he possessed a foundation-rattling hook shot.
The stanza was Soto’s, though, as he had the faster hands, an aesthetically-pleasing combination-punching style and forced the fight early. That ability to out-box his man continued into the second round and Soto found success with his uppercut, together with his overhand right.
Matthysse’s desire to work, however, seemed to be impeded by a referee who was all too eager to make himself noted in the contest but, when the bout reached it’s third session and a barnburner broke out, it favoured Matthysse who was the harder puncher. Matthysse paid particular attention to Soto’s midsection and pummeled the rib-cage with acute shots. Soto’s demise was punctuated by his inability to avoid Matthysse’s favoured areas of the ring as he got himself trapped against the ropes and had no answer or defence for Matthysse’s overhand right over the follow-up left hand.
In the fourth, Matthysse increased his work-rate, let his fists go, continued to work Soto’s body, sat down on his punches and caught the Mexican cleanly with straight rights and left hooks. Soto was fighting back but, midway through the session, he was knocked back onto the ropes and stunned by Lucas’ Herculean power.
Between rounds, Matthysse – like George Foreman was known to – propped himself up on the corner and refused to take his stool in a statement that he was comfortable with the frenetic pace of the fight.
Despite Soto being known for throwing punches in bunches, it was Matthysse who pieced his shots together and, noticeably, threw punches in flurries of three. For all of Soto’s technically-sound attacking moves, he fell into the trap of fighting his opponent’s fight, staying in the pocket and failed to dart out of the danger zone once he had landed his shots. This allowed Matthysse to retaliate and, as had been the tale of the fight, it was his shots that had the greater snap.
That snap… that hellacious power when it was fully realised at the end of the fifth round, was enough to perturb Soto and his team from continuing the fight. Matthysse knocked down Soto with a succession of signature overhand rights, putting Humberto on his seat but, even though he returned to his stool – albeit on legs that were far from sturdy – his corner were not comfortable in allowing their ward to enter the sixth and so Matthysse was rewarded with a headline-grabbing stoppage victory in California.