On an exciting night when unbeaten WBA Interim Welterweight Champion Keith “One Time” Thurman retained his title with a third-round TKO over former world champion Julio “The Kidd” Diaz and undefeated Omar “Panterita” Figueroa successfully defended his WBC lightweight crown with a 12-round split decision over Jerry Belmontes, Lucas “The Machine” Matthysse stole the show with a spectacular, brutal 11th-round knockout over John Molina in the leading Fight of the Year candidate on Saturday.
The Argentine, ranked No. 1 in the world at 140 pounds, was hurt in the first and dropped in the second and fifth rounds. But the former interim WBC 140-pound world champion came back with knockdowns in the eighth, 10th and 11th to turn back a determined bid by Molina and capture the WBC Continental Americas Super Lightweight Championship.
“It was a war,’’ said Matthysse, who improved his record to 35-3 with 33 KOs. “And it got complicated for me at the beginning, but we trained for this and we got the knockout. He hit me in the back of the head (in the second) and I crumbled a bit but I was waiting to find my distance and I was able to finish a tough fight.
“Molina is a tough fighter. He took some big blows (14 unanswered at the end of the 10th). I was a bit surprised he came back out for the 11th.”
Regarding his loss last September to unified 140-pound world champion Danny Garcia, Matthysse said, “I want the rematch. I feel that he had very good luck that night. I want the rematch."
The game but proud and eventually outgunned Molina (27-4, 22 KOs), said afterwards: “I am very disappointed. We gave the fans a good fight and I’m happy about that. I wasn’t well-known before this fight but I feel like I am now. I’m disappointed I didn’t finish Lucas. I had him hurt, but this is a learning experience. I only had a few amateur fights, so I’m learning from every experience.
“Trainer) Joe Goossen had a great game plan and we were sticking to it. Lucas Matthysse is the real deal. Even though he lost to Garcia, he still is the No. 1 rated fighter. I’d love to fight him again. I wanted to continue but the referee and judges have their jobs to do.
“It was a helluva fight. This was the fight of the year. I’d like to do it again.’’
In the main event of the Golden Boy Promotions-promoted event at StubHub Center, Thurman (23-0, 21 KOs), of Clearwater, Fla., dropped Diaz in the second round. Diaz (40-10-1, 29 KOs), of Coachella, Calif., rebounded with a strong showing in the third but got hit with a body shot that ended the fight. Diaz, upon the suggestion of his corner between rounds, did not come out for the fourth.
Said Thurman, “I felt the body shot (to Diaz). I felt he was going to go down. I wondered if I hadn’t landed it clean enough. He’s a tough guy. He showed up to fight. You saw what he was doing in the ring. His rib… he had eight more rounds to go so he did what he had to do.
“I landed a clean left hook to the temple (in the second). He felt it. So, he thought it would be better to take a knee, rather than take another shot to the head. I train to do that. If you feel that your legs aren’t right and you are in with a dangerous puncher, you take a knee. It was a wise decision.
April 28, 2014