By Mike Sloan ringside in Las Vegas: The fight was expected to be a candidate for the fight of the year award by year’s end. Most, if not all experts believed that the matchup between undisputed light welterweight champion Danny Garcia and challenger Lucas Matthysse would be an all-out war, one that would most likely end in knockout. Without question, both men lived up to the hype as they delivered one of the best battles of 2013.
Garcia (27-0, 16 KOs) was a little lethargic early on and seemed to be rocked early in the second round from a Matthysse left hook, but the Philadelphia native was able to stay away from more danger long enough to clear his head. Matthysse was all over Garcia at that point, but his vaunted power was not able to detonate on the champion’s jaw to put him away.
But just as Matthysse appeared to be walking away with the contest – Garcia was being manhandled – Garcia woke up and got to work. After a sluggish first couple rounds, Garcia opened up his arsenal by jabbing much more and started digging nasty hooks to the Argentinean’s body. To make matters worse for Matthysse, Garcia’s combos were coming from all angles and at all times. Whenever Garcia opened up, Matthysse stood statuesque, relying almost solely on one punch at a time.
Matthysse’s decision to gun for the knockout with single bombs worked against him as Garcia seized total control throughout the middle of the fight. Garcia’s left hook found a home repeatedly on Matthysse’s face and by the end of the sixth round, a nasty mouse was growing under the challenger’s eye. To make matters even worse for Matthysse, his corner inexplicably didn’t have any cold compress or ice, allowing the eye to swell almost shut within two rounds.
With his right eye virtually negated entirely, Garcia’s left hook was much more active. Garcia repeatedly tagged his opponent and continued to pepper him with slick counters and combos throughout. Though it seemed grim for Matthysse at this point, he still tried throwing his trademark power whenever he could.
With the fight slipping away, Matthysse went for broke and unfurled a monstrous right hand very early in the eleventh round. The punch was so clean, so hard that it sent Garcia’s mouthpiece flying out of the ring. Garcia was badly shaken by the punch and he immediately clinched as quickly as he could. Referee Tony Weeks halted the bout in order to get Garcia a new mouthpiece and by the time the fight resumed, most of the damage from the right hand of Matthysse had vanished. Still, Matthysse was all over him and in a matter of moments, the two were engaged in an all-out war.
During the most vicious exchange of the brawl, Garcia was able to crack the Argentinean with a sizzling right hand just above his left ear. The punch wobbled Matthysse and the “Philly Rican” then threw a blinding combo, sending him to the canvas for the first time ever as a professional. Matthysse fought back hard until the bell, but the tide was again turned in the champion’s favor.
Garcia almost gave the fight away in the final round when he dug another in a long line of low blows, prompting Weeks to deduct a point. Matthysse (34-3, 32 KOs) charged right at Garcia when the fight resumed, and the two warriors stood toe-to-toe for the final 20 seconds of the bout.
When it was all said and done, the wonderful fight was much closer than the official scores revealed. Though the ringside media section was torn between either man winning and a draw, the three judges all saw it in favor of Garcia by the tallies of 114-112 (twice) and 115-111. SecondsOut also saw it for the American, but by the closer score of 114-113.
September 14, 2013