Lucas Matthysse just might be the best junior welterweight in the world.
For a long time I wasn't convinced. His resume previously left a lot to be desired. His best "wins" were actually losses to Zab Judah and Devon Alexander. Zab had seen better days, Devon was weight drained, and both fights were close enough to steal. They were not robbery of the year candidates (at least for those of us watching more than 2000 new fights a year). He couldn't even finish a "4 round" "glass jaw" Judah after dropping him in the 10th round.
I've questioned Matthysse's punching power because his better opponents always seemed to last longer than they should have. But after witnessing him destroy Lamont Peterson in 3 rounds, I no longer have doubts. Matthysse's the biggest puncher at 140 right now, and referee Steve Smoger agrees with me. After the fight Smoger told me it was "without question" that Matthysse has the most lethal hands in junior welterweight division.
Later, renowned trainer Nazim Richardson told me, paraphrasing from memory, "There are guys who can punch, there are guys who can box, and then there are guys who are special. Matthysse is a special fighter." Richardson thinks Matthysse hits so hard that opponents must avoid getting hit completely because he'll break through whatever guard they have. Too bad there's no Winky Wright at 140 right now to test that theory...
But I digress. I'm sold on Matthysse's power but let's not crown him as the terminator just yet. This is going to seem counter intuitive, but, the Peterson fight only lasted 3 rounds. Back when Peterson fought Victor Ortiz I remember thinking that Peterson wouldn't survive that round 3 either (where he was also dropped twice). But the referee let that fight continue. Peterson regrouped and did enough to earn a draw, albeit controversially. Matthysse had a history of taking rounds off in the past, so I don't know if he would have fought the rest of the fight as good as rounds 2 and 3. There could have been a lot more rounds like the 1st, which 2 of the 3 judges gave to Peterson. Peterson told Smoger that he wanted to continue and still felt that way during the post-fight presser. Peterson said, "I believe I can weather any storm."
Maybe Peterson has a point. Soon after getting dropped and hurt in round 2 by a left hook Peterson finished strong by landing a big left hook of his own. Matthysse grinned, effectively acknowledging that it was a good shot. In round 3 Peterson was hurt even more by another left hook, which landed because he was throwing one of his own, but he beat the count and the referee let it go on. I would have preferred a stoppage then to be honest. I didn't think the knockdown that immediately followed that had Peterson any worse off, which was my opinion from deep in press row and when I watched the fight again on Showtime. The last knockdown occurred pretty much due to poor balance and weak legs. If Peterson was OK to continue before, he was still OK to continue then.
That being said, it wasn't a bad decision, just a debatable one. I, like just about anyone, would have expected Matthysee to finish the job more emphatically had the fight continued. And as much as I like Danny Garcia, who Matthysse considers "slow" and "wide open", I'll expect Matthysse to finish him off too should they ever meet. Matthysse was a little ironic with his comments about Garcia, but I agree that he wouldn't be any harder to hit than any other opponent Matthysse has already faced. And whatever Matthysee hits, he at least puts down.
But can Garcia come off the floor to win? Hopefully we'll find out. Promoter Richard Schaeffer said he wants to make a Garcia-Matthysse / Judah-Peterson double header. Then again, Schaeffer also said that Alexander is top 3 or 4 pound for pound, that "Shane Mosley is back" following a hard fought win over Pablo Cano, and that the official "AC Fight Night" attendance was 4215. If any of that is true it's probably the attendance. However, when I ‘googled' Boardwalk Hall's capacity I got 10,500. Let's just say there's no way in hell the seats were 40% filled for any fight on the card.
Moving on, in the co-main event Devon Alexander dominated Lee Purdy, a late replacement for Kell Brook, and stopped him after 7 completed rounds. The fight was supposed to be for Alexander's IBF welterweight title but Purdy didn't make weight. CompuBox reported that Alexander was 176/625 (28%) while Purdy was 87/336 (26%). When Purdy let his hands go, he was competitive. But ‘when' is clearly the operative word. Alexander was there to be hit and willing to trade, without holding, despite injuring his left hand in the 1st round. But Purdy just didn't let his hands go enough. If Purdy won any round it was the 5th, which judge Waleska Roldan awarded him. Meanwhile judges Philip Edwards and John Poturaj had it a shutout for Alexander. To be clear the scorecards didn't actually matter; Alexander won by TKO/RTD.
After his relatively good round 5 Purdy's already limited activity dropped even more. His corner, most vocally middleweight contender Darren Barker, called the fight off after the 7th round against Purdy's wishes. The "official" reason given to the press was that they were concerned about Purdy's nose, but it was never made clear if it was actually broken. And shouldn't a fighter know whether or not he can continue with a broken nose? Most fight on. But I'm sure Alexander would have won one way or another.
ShoExtreme / Off TV Undercard:
Haroon Khan TKO1 Vincente Medellin
This was a swing bout between the Showtime and ShoExtreme broadcasts. Haroon, brother of Amir, dispatched his overmatched opponent in 57 seconds. Medellin was dropped twice and quit. Khan landed a good left hook to the body to put him down for the 2nd time, but not that good.
Shawn Porter UD10 Phil Lo Greco (99-89, 100-88, 100-88)
At no point was Lo Greco, floored in rounds 8 and 10, in this fight. I'm shocked one of the judges even managed to give him a round. Porter should have knocked Lo Greco out with all the quick combinations he landed. Unfortunately for Porter he's not a puncher. With his aggressive fighting style I can't see him winning at an elite level. But he's a handful regardless and fun to watch. He was criticized for his draw with Julio Diaz, but that doesn't look so bad anymore after what Diaz did to Khan. Many would say Porter out performed Khan against Diaz.
Thomas Williams Jr UD8 Otis Griffin (80-72, 80-72, 79-73)
Williams clearly won but still has a long way before he can be considered "Top Dog" in the light heavyweight division. Two of the three judges gave Griffin round 6. Round 1 was also debatable. Griffin, a 35 year old veteran of 38 fights, proved crafty and elusive but didn't have much to offer offensively.
Anthony Ogogo UD6 Edgar Perez (60-54, 60-54, 60-53)
Ogogo dominated every minute of every round. The final CompuBox numbers read 155/435 for Ogogo and 32/186 for Perez. Even though there were no knockdowns in the bout judge Joseph Pasquale scored the 5th round 10-8 Ogogo. Honestly, with what Ogogo was landing, I'm surprised Perez even finished the fight. I figure Ogogo must not punch very hard or Perez is a really good punching bag. But didn't Luis Arias blow Perez out in 1 round? Maybe the 2012 Olympic Bronze Medalist just needs some time to develop more of a pro style.
Bernard Hopkins Media Roundtable
Before Ogogo-Perez I caught up with Bernard Hopkins at a media roundtable. He talked about his upcoming fight with Karo Murat and discussed his hall of fame accomplishments (featuring a must see rant, embedded above, about his never-ending quest for respect). He also talked about wanting to be involved in one more super fight before retirement (acknowledging that his showdown with Oscar De La Hoya was the last time). In his mind Carl Froch is the leading candidate to make that a reality for him. B-Hop said that fight could take place here (in the US) or in the UK, but it's only going to be a major event in the UK. Neither Hopkins nor Froch are big enough draws in the US unless history radically changes.
Anthony Peterson RTD2 Dominic Salcido
Salcido apparently broke his nose and was pulled after 2 rounds despite protest. Sound familiar? Nonetheless Peterson picked up his 2nd win since losing by DQ to Brandon Rios in 2010. I wanted to get his reasons for why he's been so inactive over the last 3 years on video but my interview was cut short. But it's basically a combination of injuries and politics. Perhaps the most important thing I got on video was his desire to fight Ricky Burns. Oddly enough this doesn't even have anything to do with the Burns-Gonzalez fight, where Burns received a boxing lesson before Gonzalez fell apart after the 7th round. Anthony hasn't seen that fight yet. He's confident that he can beat Burns just from seeing him as a super featherweight (where Burns has a career best win over Roman Martinez).
Cesar Seda UD8 Miguel Tamayo
Rau'shee Warren TKO4 Angel Carvajal
Jamel Herring TKO1 Victor Galindo
Robert Easter TKO2 Eduardo Guillen