Atlantic City, a place as contrived and grandiloquent as Donald Trump’s patented comb-over, bore witness to something starkly genuine on Saturday night in the form of Lucas Matthysse’s fistic firepower. The horizontal rain sweeping the boardwalk in the aftermath provided a fitting eulogy to a fight that ended with Lamont Peterson sideways on the canvas. Presumably slamming the door on any remaining naysayers, Matthysse’s brutal disposal of Peterson in three rounds confirmed him to be the class of boxing’s talent-rich 140 lb. division. Surrounded by the decadent, neon-lit artifice of America’s favorite playground, Matthysse’s true colors as a bona-fide sensation emerged.
In the city that inspired Monopoly, another mustachioed man, referee Steve Smoger, went against his usual bloodthirsty instincts and called a halt to the proceedings as a dazed Peterson went down for a third time, still feeling the effects of the left hook tomahawk that had sent him reeling moments before. The courageous Peterson protested his fate, but a consensus emerged that, like the Borg or superconductors, resistance would have ultimately been futile. Peterson is a good prizefighter, holding his own against many of the division’s top talents in the past. Matthysse ripped through him like a feverish tot tearing through wrapping paper on Christmas morning. The 43% chance of winning a blackjack hand at one of the city’s many temples of false hope would appear to be a much more manageable scenario than the one awaiting Matthysse’s next victim, er, opponent.
Taking my seat at Boardwalk Hall, still coming to terms with my own shellacking at the hands of a merciless deck and an unsympathetic dealer, I found myself sitting next to a childhood friend of Paul Spadafora. In between claims of a burgeoning Floyd Mayweather-Spaddy undefeated mega-bout, I watched the Shawn Porter-Phil Lo Greco fight unfold, as Manny Steward might say, exactly how I thought it would. The only memorable blow landed by Lo Greco was a loud proclamation of Porter’s resemblance to a prominent member of the female anatomy. The ambition in attempting any kind of verbal communication was commendable, considering Lo Greco’s mouth was consistently stuffed with leather throughout the one-sided spectacle.
Haroon Khan, Amir’s younger brother, knocked out diminutive Vincente Medellin in roughly the same amount of time it took for ring announcer Jimmy Lennon Jr. to utter his signature phrase, “It’s Showtime!”
The Devon Alexander redemption tour continued with a stoppage win over a game, but limited, Lee Purdy. Purdy grinned and mugged his way through seven rounds, perhaps hoping each facial expression would negate the fusillade of clean punches Alexander was raining upon him throughout the bout. Blasting tempests of bloody snot at the end of each round ensured Purdy made a mark on the canvas, if not the scorecards. It was a showcase performance for Alexander, a fighter in need of public rehabilitation after dreary showings against Tim Bradley and Randall Bailey, and widely denounced, controversial wins over Andriy Kotelnik and Matthysse. The level of competition here in Purdy will likely prevent Alexander from skyrocketing back to the top of everyone’s talent-to-watch lists, but he dispatched the man in front of him with such efficiency and speed that the notion of his next appearance now becomes a bit more palatable.
The evening closed with Matthysse’s coming out party on the world stage. With 32 knockouts in 34 wins, Matthysse’s clout was never in question. Doubters pointed to his two defeats, against Zab Judah and Alexander. Those decision losses at the hands of speedier boxers perhaps suggested some vulnerability against a certain style and level of fighter. While he certainly had a case for winning those fights (both decisions were highly debatable), he did not resemble the unstoppable brute who was violently obliterating less skilled opposition. That can be said no more. Peterson’s credibility and pedigree was at an all-time high, entering the contest as a legitimate top-three junior-welterweight. Matthysse eviscerated him with the same swift ruthlessness employed by the gat-wielding bootleggers who ruled this east coast gambling Mecca a century ago. On this night, Lucas Matthysse was Emperor of the Boardwalk.