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.
Words: Robert Delgado – Los Angeles
Photos: Tom Casino/Showtime
Former two-weight world champion Humberto Soto and fearless junior welterweight contender Lucas Matthysse get their dukes up on Saturday, June 23 at the STAPLES Center in Los Angeles and have vowed to wow the Californian crowd with a display filled with machismo. Matthysse has declared that his team have been preparing for a war whilst Soto stated that experience will see him edge the toe-to-toe battle.
A 29-year-old from Buenos Aires, Argentina, Matthysse (30-2-0, 28ko) has built up a headhunter’s reputation founded on his 85 percent chance of securing victory by way of knockout, however, when campaigning on American canvas, he has twice found himself on the wrong side of a decision when a fight is to be decided by the ringside judges. On both occasions – Zab Judah in New Jersey in 2010 and Devon Alexander in Missouri in 2011 – the crafty South American brawler made a case for victory.
On his two losses, Matthysse said: “Those were both very difficult fights to have to adjust to them and change the way I fight. I know I won both those fights… deep in my heart, I know it. It did hurt me, but we’ve got to come back stronger and I know we are ready for bigger and better things.”
While Judah and Alexander are slippery opponents who would be more comfortable fighting in space, rather than in the centre of the ring, Soto (58-7-2, 34ko) possesses an alternative style… one which Matthysse is more comfortable with.
“With Humberto, we all know he’s going to come to fight. He wants to come to battle and that makes me very happy because we are ready to give him a war.”
The Mexican Soto paid tribute to Matthysse’s attributes but cites the gulf in experience (Soto has boxed 470 rounds compared to Mattysse’s 110) to be pivotal come fight time. He said: “There is no doubt Lucas is a strong opponent and a strong fighter. He comes forward and always looks for a fight.
“The difference in this fight is the experience. I have a lot of experience, and that’s what’s going to lead me to victory. Matthysse is a good fighter. He’s going to stay in there and he’s a smart fighter. We’re going to go toe-to-toe.”
Alan Dawson – London
Questionable judging has long dogged boxing. It is almost common to see at least one high-profile contentious decision a month; one that arouses the ire of the defeated fighter, the boxing industry and fight fans in general. Last weekend was no different as Steve Cunningham and Gabriel Campillo were dubiously out-pointed by Yoan Pablo Hernandez and Karo Murat. On The Beak caught up with renowned boxing judge Harold Lederman to debate the issue of reform.
In an official capacity, Lederman has provided the scoring for world title fights involving Vitali Klitschko, Marco Antonio Barrera, Nigel Benn, Evander Holyfield, Julio Cesar Chavez, Larry Holmes, Marvin Hagler, Sugar Ray Leonard and Muhammad Ali. In 1999 he retired yet continues to work for HBO where, for over 575 televised prizefights, he has broadcast his score and take on the night’s action speaking in his distinctive New York accent that was made to air.
What are the main things Lederman, an experienced amateur and professional judge, looks for in any fight?
“You want to see who landed the clean punches – that’s 90 percent of scoring,” he said, concisely. “If you can punch you have an advantage over a boxer. Paul Malignaggi is a boxer, Yuri Foreman is a boxer… they have to win decisively and not get hit to win a fight against a guy who is a big banger. You want to see who is the more effective aggressor, who showed better ring generalship and defence, who blocks more punches and who slips more punches, but clean punching is 90 percent.”
Easy to talk to, I got the impression that Harold could have chatted boxing all night with me. A clear lover of the sport, Lederman had no qualms on providing me with an education on why it is not the judging system that needs to be reformed but, rather, the actual appointment of scorers at ringside.
“I don’t see how much more they can do, except… it’s the appointment of officials that is very important,” the World Boxing Hall of Fame inductee said exclusively to On The Beak. “When you have a high profile fight whether that’s Dereck Chisora and Tyson Fury or Victor Ortiz and Floyd Mayweather, you take the best three judges. In boxing, they do the opposite! They sometimes have inexperienced guys [at world championship fights].
“They need to be more careful about who you put in. You can give new guys a chance but you have to work your way up. Inexperience can lead to bad decisions. If they watch the appointments more carefully, they’re made because the sanctioning bodies [WBA, WBC, IBF, WBO] want to use their people. With high profile fights, like Wladimir Klitschko and David Haye, you have the three best judges regardless of sanctioning bodies they are affiliated with and that’s the end of the story. Controversial fights are scored because of the appointments.”
Controversial scoring is not exclusive to one country. While Cunningham and Campillo appeared to be duped out of a deserved win in Germany, there have been just as questionable decisions scored in England (Obodai Sai versus Jamie Cox), Northern Ireland (Breidis Prescott against Paul McCloskey) and the United States (Lucas Matthysse versus Devon Alexander and, most infamously of late, Erislandy Lara against Paul Williams).
Key – Total punches landed/thrown per round. Source: Compubox
|Total Punches||Jabs||Power Punches|
Key – Final Compubox stats.
In each of those cases, it was the home fighter who benefited from the decision. I asked Harold whether factors such as crowd noise can affect the judging: “Let me tell you something… judges are human,” he said. “There’s no doubt that judges hear the crowd. Any judge that says they don’t hear it – they’re lying!
“You’re always going to hear the yelling and the screaming, it’s close, they might lean toward the home name… it’s part of the game. Judges try like heck to be honest but the truth of the matter is you’re always subject to what’s going on in the background and it may take some effect but will they effect the judge to make a really bad decision, you follow what I’m saying? [Regardless of the noise level it] shouldn’t sway the judging from making a good decision to a bad decision.”
In the cases of the aforementioned contests, despite winning by a tight or sometimes just an inaccurate score, the victor is elevated to a healthy position in the global rankings while the recorded loser has to go back to a position where they are, effectively, pushed back one year, perhaps two. In that space of time they have to take a fight, two fights, maybe three, taking 200, 400 or 600 clean punches in the face or body in order to get back to the position they were in – that high profile fight.
The fact that incompetent judging can send a fighter through an unnecessary physically grueling schedule is one of the main catalysts for the calls of reform and, with the rise of technology, scoring systems like Compubox have become increasingly popular as a way of determining who was the more effective puncher in terms of punches thrown, landed and accuracy – but not in terms of damage.
“Let me tell you something… HBO uses Compubox,” began Lederman in response to whether boxing would miss the human element of judging if it was replaced with technology. “It’s fun for fans watching the fight at home but it shouldn’t effect the scoring of the fight.
“Paul Williams is gonna throw 100 punches every round but the question is: do his punches really mean that much? Do they do that much damage? Against Lara without question, anyone at ringside or at home could tell that Lara was landing the cleaner, more effective and the more solid shots. He did more damage for nine out of the 12 rounds and, at the end of the day, that’s what you’re there to judge – who hurt who more in that round? And that’s who you give the score to.
“Compubox systems are fun but their statistic doesn’t necessarily provide you with who won that round,” warned Lederman.
“I don’t see Compubox numbers until the start of the next round,” added Harold. “It’s a tremendous addition to the sport, though. Everyone can appreciate them but, you gotta remember, the guys who count the punches are subject to the same thing the judges are. The ref may get in the way and the guy might have his back to you. The aggressor… you can’t count what you can’t see. You have to take that into consideration. Compubox is really good but it shouldn’t replace the judge.”
Harold was equally opposed to a compromise of two human judges and a computer: “I like what we have now,” he maintained. “Three human judges.”
He concluded: “The situation is… the way we have it now is the best way.”
Denzil Stone – Atlantic City
The Star Power event on Saturday, September 17 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas has dimmed somewhat as Lucas Matthysse – one of the most powerful punchers in the super lightweight division – has withdrawn from his world title clash against ring legend Erik Morales citing illness, according to a report on Boxing Scene. Matthysse lamented the need to pull out of the “biggest fight” of his life.
The Morales (51-7-0, 35ko) and Matthysse (28-2-0, 26ko) match-up was due to be the main support on a promising undercard, however, the loss of Matthysse is no doubt a major blow to the overall pay-per-view quality of the event as it provided a genuine test for both fighters.
Morales was presented with another teak tough Argentine who can dispel phenomenal knockout power from his 140lb frame, while Matthysse would have been up against the most experienced and greatest skilled opponent he had tested himself against to date.
An ambiguously broad explanation of “illness” has been cited for the withdrawal with Matthysse offering an apology to the WBC – the sanctioning body for the title clash – via Boxing Scene. He said: “I feel very hurt, this was the fight of my life but I just couldn’t get up to fight – I am not able to.
“I apologise to the WBC for this unexpected and painful situation,” the big-hitter concluded.
Matthysse was Morales’ third opponent for the September 17 card as he had already been aligned with Jorge Barrios, who had been prevented from participation due to visa issues and Anthony Crolla, who has since been shunted to the untelevised undercard.
Marcos Maidana, who edged Morales in a thrilling – and close – contest earlier in the year, is rumoured to have already been offered a rematch with Morales but he has spurned the advance in order to continue with his own stay-busy, the following week, on September 23 against Petr Petrov in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Maidana, instead, came back with a rematch option later this year.
The show’s main promoter, Golden Boy Promotions, is yet to make an official comment.
Tommy Barber – Los Angeles
Unified champion Amir Khan sits atop the super lightweight rankings but will leave the 140lbs (10 stones) division behind as he, by his own admission, has just one fight left before moving up to welterweight. The Briton, who fights out of the Wildcard Boxing Club in Hollywood, California, is hoping to box the winner of the September 17 scrap between Lucas Matthysse and Erik Morales but the latter insists he needs more time to ready himself for Khan.
“My next fight will be at 140lbs,” Khan, a 24-year-old who has fortified his standing within the international boxing circuit due to strong wins over Zab Judah, Paul Malignaggi and Marcos Maidana, said to Fight Hype recently. “Me and my team are still working on an opponent. There are a few names in the mix, but nothing concrete.”
Two of those names include Morales (51-7-0, 35ko) and Matthysse, who provide the chief support to the Star Power event that takes place in Las Vegas in a fortnight’s time and is headlined by Victor Ortiz’s tough defence of his WBC welterweight championship title against Floyd Mayweather Jr.
“I really want the winner [of Morales/Matthysse],” asserted the athlete famed for his fast hands, ring movement and ability to wear opponents down with his sheer accumulation of punches. “It makes sense. Morales beat Maidana [sic Maidana trumped Morales in a close contest, On The Beak scored it a draw] and Matthysse is a good fighter, so the winner of that fight should be number two in the division. It makes sense, plus the [vacant] WBC [super lightweight] belt will be on the line too. Hopefully in December, probably in LA or Vegas.”
A silver medal Olympian at the 2004 Games in Athens, Khan’s assault in professional boxing began in 2005 and, within two years, he had collected the Commonwealth championship when campaigning as a lightweight. In 2009 he jumped weight to super lightweight and was awarded the WBA title for out-pointing Andriy Kotelnik. Having added the IBF crown to his honours roll Khan (26-1-0, 18ko), who continues to physically grow, has few challenges left in his current weight class, and so a move north is imminent.
Regarding his ability to retain skills and jump weight classes, Khan was asked whether he sees himself as a super welterweight or even a middleweight in two to four years’ time. He said: “I’ll try, it all depends on my body; it takes time. Already I am outgrowing 140lbs and developing into a fully-fledged welterweight. If it [my body] lets me go that high, yea. I’m tall [5'10], so 154lbs (11 stones) is a possibility and 160 (11 stones 6), maybe. As I’m getting older, I’m getting bigger and stronger.”
Khan, though, may have to explore alternative options for his winter opponent as Morales, despite his veteran status, issued a statement indicating he would not be ready to fight Khan until 2012. The three-weight world champion, gunning for a major honour in his fourth weight class on September 17, returned to the fight game in 2010 following a three year absence from the sport.
“The press has talked about a fight against Khan but the truth is I do not intend to fight him this year because I think I need to continue to raise my level [of boxing] after spending two and a half years in retirement,” Morales confirmed to Boxing Scene. “I’ve slowly recovered my boxing, little by little and I’m doing good things in the ring.”
Khan has become something of a regular on the US boxing circuit having stopped Malignaggi in New York City’s Madison Square Garden and outpointing Maidana and knocking out Judah; both in Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. His US representative, Richard Schaefer, of Golden Boy Promotions, are exploring Canada as the destination for Khan’s next bout.
“Amir Khan has really become a global star,” Schaefer declared to Ringtv.com. “He’s fought in New York, and he’s fought in Las Vegas, and I wouldn’t mind going back to Vegas again, but maybe there are some other opportunities as well. When we went to Canada for the two Bernard Hopkins fights [versus Jean Pascal], I really came to appreciate the fans there and I think that the Canadian fight fans embraced the big fights.
“We think that it would be a great thing for Amir Khan, being one of the pound-for-pound best fighters in the world in my opinion, to be coming coming to Canada.”
Robert Delgado – Los Angeles
Lucas Matthysse is striving to put the two questionable decision defeats on American canvas behind him as he returns to the US to take on Mexican ring legend Erik Morales for the vacant WBC super lightweight world title. Matthysse described his points losses to Zab Judah and Devon Alexander as “bad decisions” and “robberies” yet is looking forward to the Morales clash on Saturday, September 17 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas.
Matthysse and Morales (51-7-0, 35ko) provide the chief support to Floyd Mayweather Jr and Victor Ortiz’s WBC welterweight world championship bout at the Star Power event. Like the headlining fight, Matthysse and Morales also scrap for a major honour, however, unlike Mayweather and Ortiz, they are both coming off the back of losses.
Morales dropped a competitive decision to Argentine slugger Marcos Maidana at the Action Heroes card earlier in the year while Matthysse saw a split decision go against him when he took on Alexander in the American’s backyard of Missouri. Matthysse’s loss contains a footnote as he dropped the former world champion in the fourth and, according to On The Beak‘s unofficial scorecard, had the clear edge over his opponent winning by a 96-93 margin over the ten round distance.
It was not the first time that Matthysse (28-2-0, 26ko) felt aggrieved over a contentious defeat as Judah too, during their 2010 fight, pipped Matthysse even though he was out power-punched. During a conference call with the media recently, Matthysse, according to the Miami Herald, said: “Everybody knows that those two losses were bad decisions against me. I was robbed in both of those fights. People know I won those fights.”
Both losses occurred the only times the hard-hitting 28-year-old, who fights out of Buenos Aires, had boxed in America yet that has not perturbed him from returning a third time to take on Morales: “We’re very happy right now to be fighting Erik Morales.
“When I was offered this opportunity, I was very happy to come back to the US. So, right away, [judging] was not something even to think about. I’m trusting the judges, I know that [Las Vegas] is different. I leave it at the hands of the judges.”
Alan Dawson – London
Fights in boxing are usually confined to goings-on within the ring but two of the biggest promotional firms are set to scrap for the event of the year accolade as the Star Power night, organised by Golden Boy Promotions and the rematch between Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito – staged by Top Rank Promotions – are attempting to stack their undercards with plenty of action.
|Star Power [Golden Boy]
||Cotto v Margarito 2 [Top Rank]|
|Victor Ortiz – Floyd Mayweather Jr||Miguel Cotto – Antonio Margarito|
|Erik Morales – Lucas Matthysse||Vanes Martirosyan – Pawel Wolak?|
|Jessie Vargas – Josesito Lopez
||Jorge Arce – Wilfredo Vazquez Jr?
|Kassim Ouma – Craig McEwan?||Yuriorkis Gamboa – TBA?|
Golden Boy founder Oscar de la Hoya has already proven he can put together an appealing card of fights that do not disappoint on the night due to the acclaim that the Action Heroes event, set in April this year, received.
Staged at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, four intriguing match-ups played out and produced an upset of the year nominee in Nobuhiro Ishida’s first round knockout over James Kirkland. There was also a potential performance of the year from Erik Morales (with one eye grotesquely swollen shut), who took Marcos Maidana the distance in a close contest that many had given him no hope of lasting the opening stages. Robert Guerrero put on a boxing clinic against the brawling Michael Katsidis and Paulie Malignaggi’s welterweight win over Jose Miguel Cotto was thoroughly convincing.
The Star Power event on Saturday, September 17, in the same arena as Action Heroes, aims to emulate it’s predecessor’s success. Those who purchase on pay-per-view will be able to witness Saul Alvarez’s defence of his WBC super welterweight world championship against Alfonso Gomez in Staples Center, Los Angeles, however, the main show held in Vegas is headlined by the return to boxing of Floyd Mayweather Jr. Without a tune-up, the undefeated American pin-up boy takes on game and dangerous southpaw Victor Ortiz, the champion of the WBC title at welterweight.
The chief support comes from Erik Morales, who takes on yet another tough and power-punching Argentinean in Lucas Matthysse, in a fight where both will compete for the vacant WBC super lightweight belt. Jessie Vargas, who operates under the Mayweather Promotions banner, is currently the leading nominee for On The Beak‘s prospect of the year and he is looking to maintain his perfect 2011 with a solid victory over Josesito Lopez on his PPV debut.
In preparation for his challenge of Ortiz’s title, Mayweather Jr has been sparring Kassim Ouma in the Mayweather Gym in Las Vegas. Ouma may even be granted a place on the (most likely untelevised) card against Craig McEwan in what would be a middleweight battle to remain relevant.
Initially slated to box Morales, Anthony Crolla was shoved from the card when the WBC title was rumoured to be freed up. Crolla’s camp were vocal in their outrage as trainer Joe Gallagher lobbied with de la Hoya to at least provide Crolla with another fight as his supporters had already booked flights from Manchester, England, in order to witness their guy make his debut in boxing’s capital. De la Hoya has done just that as the 24-year-old lightweight takes on Juan Montiel.
Cotto – Margarito 2
The initial bout between Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito, fought at the 147lb welterweight limit in July, 2008, fully lived up to it’s tag of “The Battle”. Cotto attracted the ten scores during the opening stages of the fight but Margarito’s strength and power eventually wore down his Puerto Rican foe. Margarito was unrelenting in his attack and clobbered Cotto with uppercuts on the inside and fierce body-punches. By the penultimate round, Cotto’s face was a bloodied mess. It was the uppercut shot that staggered Cotto before another uppercut supported by two straight rights forced him to take a knee in the same round. Cotto’s corner threw in the towel and Margarito was awarded the technical knockout victory.
Since the handwrap scandal – Margarito was found to have a plaster of Paris substance inserted into his handwraps prior to his bout with Shane Mosley the next year – much has been made over whether he was guilty of cheating in his past contests… without concrete proof it is mere speculation, however, Margarito has the chance to beat that suspicion into touch while Cotto has his shot at avenging his first career loss. The rematch will take place on Saturday, December 3 at Madison Square Garden, New York City – where a largely Puerto Rican and pro-Cotto crowd will be cheering for every punch landed on Antonio and jeering every punch he misses. The fight will also, according to various reports, contain a downright bizarre catchweight of 153lbs; one pound below the super welterweight cut-off.
The theme of second chances and avenging the first loss on your resume may well be a motif for the Top Rank card as Wilfredo Vazquez Jr, who was knocked out in the final round of his WBO super bantamweight defence against courageous Mexican Jorge Arca (pictured right), is rumoured to have an opportunity to reverse that result. Arca, now the champion, “might” make the first defence of the WBO crown on the Cotto-Margarito undercard, according to Top Rank founder Bob Arum.
Their first dust-up, that was the chief-support for the Manny Pacquiao and Shane Mosley fight, effectively saved the show as the rest of the card – Pacquiao and Mosley included – was underwhelming. The slobberknocker between Vazquez Jr and Arce was the clear fight of the night.
Technique and power may be aligned with pressure as undefeated Vanes Martirosyan, who fights out of the famed Wildcard Boxing Club in Hollywood, California, is to take on fellow top ten ranked 154lb campaigner Pawel Wolak. Arum is quoted by Boxing Scene to have said: “Both camps have agreed… As soon as [Top Rank's head counsel] is back in the office, he’ll get the contracts out and then it can be officially done. Terrific fight, really interesting [and I] cannot wait to see it.” Wolak is coming off the back of a fight of the year nominee as he slugged it out with Delvin Rodriguez in an all-action ten-rounder on ESPN’s Friday Night Fights programme earlier this year. Neither Wolak, nor Arce, are in boring fights… they bring the action and both would be incredible coups if signed to the Top Rank card in December.
Rumours of Yuriorkis Gamboa’s inclusion are, at this stage, embryonic as the Cuban sensation first of all has to oversee Daniel Ponce de Leon on Saturday, September 10 in Atlantic City, however, an appearance in a star-studded card will give Gamboa – a Tazmanian devil of a fighter – further exposure.
All of the televised fights on Star Power and Cotto – Margarito 2 are must-see fights and the competition between Golden Boy and Top Rank to produce the event of the year can only result in one clear winner at this stage – the fight fans.
Robert Delgado – Los Angeles
Lucas Matthysse has two defeats recorded on his resume, against Zab Judah and Devon Alexander, but both losses require footnotes as the powerful Argentine was regarded to have had the edge in both contests despite the split decision judging that went against him. Such disappointment has not left Matthysse bitter about fighting on American canvas, though, as the headhunting 28-year-old is once again to fight in the US as he attempts to beat Erik Morales to claim the vacant WBC super lightweight world title on September 17.
“It wasn’t difficult at all because I know I won those fights, people know I won those fights,” Matthysse is quoted to have said by Boxing Scene.
Matthysse’s record (28-2-0, 26ko) is as formidable as his reputation. Like countryman Marcos Maidana, Matthysse has shown a consistent ability to end fights before the distance, backed up by his knockout ratio of 83 percent. This year he has already fought DeMarcus Corley, who he dropped nine times en route to an eighth round teekayo and felled Devon Alexander, also, but saw the decision go against him – the consensus opinion is that Alexander was the recipient of a hometown decision as they boxed in Missouri.
Regarded to be one of the key players in a super lightweight pool saturated with talent – he is ranked fourth by On The Beak – Matthysse has claimed that the opportunity to fight for one of the versions of the world title at 140lbs beset any trepidation about boxing in front of American judges again.
“When I was offered this opportunity I was very happy to come back to the US and what better way [than] to fight for the world title. So right away it [the judging] was not something even to think about. I’m very excited and ready to go.”
Matthysse, who trains out of the World Crown Sports set-up in Oxnard, California, added: “I’m not stressing over the judges. I know that [Las] Vegas is very different. I hope it doesn’t happen the same as in the past fights but I’m concentrating on preparing, I’m okay, I leave it in the hands of the judges.
“When the fight came up [losing twice by split decision] wasn’t something to think about. It was an opportunity for a world title, to fight Erik Morales. [We] all decided: “Let’s do it”. It’s a great opportunity and we’re going there to win.”
The super lightweight bout between Matthysse and Morales (51-7-0, 35ko) is the chief supporting fight on the undercard for the Star Power event headlined by WBC welterweight world champion Victor Ortiz and challenger Floyd Mayweather Jr at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Petra Kirsch – Gelsenkirchen
Floyd Mayweather Jr is ducking Manny Pacquiao, Timothy Bradley is “scared and knows he’ll get beat” and the best match-up out there for Amir Khan is to take on the winner of a September 17 scrap between Erik Morales and Lucas Matthysse, according to the Bolton-based volume-punching boxer-mover himself, who has taken August off boxing in order to observe Ramadan.
“I think Floyd Mayweather will avoid me like he’s avoiding Manny Pacquiao and other fighters out there,” Khan said to On the Ropes radio. “I mean, he never takes on dangerous fighters like myself, by taking on a Maidana and Bradley. He likes to go in and take the easy route and fight the easy names that he knows he can beat.”
Mayweather Jr (41-0-0, 25ko) disrupts a 14-month hiatus from the sport when he takes on recent WBC welterweight champion Victor Ortiz in the headlining fight on the Star Power card at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas next month, however, while Ortiz (29-2-2, 22ko) is regarded to have embarked on a revival, Khan needs more convincing that he is a worthy opponent.
“At the end of the day you have to remember Victor Ortiz fought on my under cards twice. [Marcos] Maidana is the guy who beat him, and then he [Mayweather Jr] goes Victor Ortiz is the biggest challenge out there for him, which in my eyes there are bigger names out there who I know can take Mayweather and give him a tougher fight than Victor.”
Khan has enjoyed a solid 2011. The 24-year-old has fought twice, against erstwhile undefeated Paul McCloskey who he defeated by way of sixth round technical decision, and experienced ring veteran Zab Judah, whom he beat by fifth round knockout. In neither fight was he seen to have lost a single round and now he awaits the winner of a WBC world title fight between Morales and Matthysse. The contest Khan craves most at super lightweight, though, is against WBO belt holder Timothy Bradley (27-0-0, 11ko).
“The whole truth behind it is Bradley is scared and he knows he’ll get beat and he’ll get destroyed if he ever fought me!
“If he goes on to get beaten by me then it will take away a fight between him and Mayweather or him and Pacquiao. That’s the reason I really think he wants to cash in and he wants to avoid the big names who are coming up like myself and fight the big names because he knows maybe if he gets beat by Mayweather then he’ll fight me.
“He thinks that fight still might be there, but I’ll tell you one thing – if he gets beat by someone like Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao before fighting me I’ll never take that fight with him, because I want to fight him now while he’s at his best and while he’s at his prime and undefeated.
“I want to prove that I’m the guy to take his zero and I want to beat him. If he doesn’t want to fight me now then that fight will never happen.”
His likely opponent later this year will be whomever holds the WBC title. Khan said: “You’ve got two names [Morales/Matthysse] there who are good fighters. Also the WBC title is on the line. So there is another title to pick up, so there is something to get from the fight. Also, if Erik Morales wins I think that will be a good fight for me because he’s a big name, he sells more tickets than Maidana, and like I said there’s a title on the line.
“Even if it’s Matthysse, it’s someone I have not boxed and someone I have not beaten and I think I’ll take that fight. The best option I’m more looking at is the Morales fight against Matthysse.”
Robert Delgado – Los Angeles
Golden Boy Promotions, the organisers of the September 17 Star Power event headlined by Victor Ortiz‘s WBC welterweight world championship defence against challenger Floyd Mayweather Jr, confirmed a barnstorming undercard and the chief supporting contest, between warhorses Erik Morales and Lucas Matthysse is set to be a 2011 classic as both prizefighters are desperate to leave the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas with the WBC super lightweight strap.
“I cannot wait to get in the ring and fight Erik Morales,” proclaimed Matthysse (28-2-0, 26ko) just days after the official confirmation that he had been the third opponent – after Anthony Crolla and Jorge Barrios – drafted in to face Morales for a shot at a vacant world title on a pay-per-view event. “I will do anything and everything I can to walk away from this fight as a world champion. I will work harder because I don’t want to pass up this magnificent opportunity.”
The WBC championship at 140lbs has been freed up by the Council due to erstwhile incumbent Timothy Bradley’s relative inactivity. Bradley, who has twice held the WBC title and twice lost it outside of the ring despite being undefeated inside of it, has been granted “Champion in recess” status.
Both Morales (51-7-0, 35ko) and Matthysse are coming off the back of closely-competed defeats to Marcos Maidana and Devon Alexander respectively. For Matthysse, the bout provides a first crack at a major title, while Morales – a champion in three weight classes – has a shot at becoming a four-weight world champion; which, if successfulk, would be a first for a Mexican.
“This fight is the chance of a lifetime,” explained Morales. “I have waited for this moment my entire career. To have the opportunity to win world titles in four weight divisions on Mexican Independence Day [weekend] and on a night like this is a dream come true. I am going to train harder than ever to make the Mexican people proud and to be victorious on Sept. 17.”
Highly-touted prospect Jesus “Jesse” Vargas (16-0-0, 9ko), a protege of Roger and Floyd Mayweather Jr, introduces the televised undercard and takes on Josesito Lopez. He said: “I know I will be ready to show the world that all of my hard work and preparation has led to this opportunity. I am so excited to be a part of this event and I look forward to beating Lopez and keeping my undefeated record.”
Lopez (29-3-0, 17ko) added: “I am very excited to be a part of this event and to show the world that I am a force to be reckoned with in the ring. I haven’t lost a fight in over three years and I don’t plan on losing this one. Jessie Vargas might be undefeated now, but he won’t be after September 17.”