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21 APRIL 2018

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Thurman and Matthysse Stop Foes in California

pic Esther Lin  (Showtime)
pic Esther Lin (Showtime)

By Jason Pribila: A week before the sport’s biggest star enters the ring Showtime presented a Golden Boy Promotions card that many panned as showcase bouts. However, when fighters enter the ring in Carson, California their performances often exceed expectations. While the evening came to an anti-climactic end when Julio Diaz (40-10-1, ) quit on his stool after three rounds against Keith Thurman (23-0, 21 KO), fight fans were already treated to a fight of the year candidate between Lukas Matthysse and John Molina.


Thurman is a hard hitting action fighter who has been growing up on our airwaves. He has power in both hands, his hand speed is underrated, and he has some flaws defensively which ensure he will continue to be a fan friendly fighter. On this night, his opponent received the opportunity to fight in a main event because he gave fits to current titlist Shawn Porter in a pair of fights. On this night, however, “The Kidd” seemed to age before our eyes.


The opening round saw each fighter begin cautiously until Thurman would unleash combinations. He buzzed Diaz with a combination highlighted by a leaping left hook.

Thurman forced Diaz to take a knee in the second round when a looping left hook robbed Diaz of his equilibrium. He seemed poised to make it a quick evening, as Diaz looked completely overmatched.


In what proved to be the final round, Thurman was applying pressure until a counter left momentarily forced Thurman to retreat. He quickly righted the ship as the fighters traded as the round came to a close.


Just as the crowd was beginning to think they may be in for another decent scrap, the bout was waved off. Diaz complained of a rib injury and his corner asked that the bout be stopped.


Thurman was victorious and got thru 9 minutes without sustaining any damage. He will hopefully be back in the ring this summer. While he continues to pile up the knockouts, he’s been in the ring with Diaz and Soto-Karass in back to back fights. The welterweight division is loaded, and it is about time we see Thurman in the ring with another top ten welterweight.


Prior to junior welterweights Lukas Matthysse (35-3, 33 KO) and John Molina (27-4, 22 KO) getting into the ring, I dubbed the co-main event as “The Rise of the Machine”. The rise I was referring to was that this was Matthysse’s first fight since he was dropped in round 11 of his decision loss to Danny Garcia in September. I did not realize that I was actually foreshadowing that Molina would send Matthysse to the canvas twice in rounds 2 and 5.


Molina was moving up from the lightweight division but he appeared to be the bigger man. That being said, no one felt that Molina would be the bigger puncher. That seemed to be the case early as he hurt Matthysse in the opening round with his overhand right. In round two Molina landed a counter right hand and sent Matthysse to the canvas.



Matthysse would face further adversity in round three when an accidental head butt opened a gash over his left eye.   Matthysse gained momentum in the fourth round when he began to land power punches behind his jab.  Matthysse was winning the majority of the minutes but Molina’s single right hands continually stopped him in his tracks.  

Matthysse found himself on the canvas again in the fifth, a round he was dominating.  A Molina right landed at the back of the Argentine’s head, but it was ruled a knockdown.


Matthysse recovered quickly from the second knockdown, and he began to punish Molina in the sixth round.  Jabs and left hooks continually found their mark leaving many in the frenzied crowd wondering how Molina was still on his feet.


Matthysse caught a break when a push was ruled a knockdown in round eight.   Molina did not protest the call as he seemed to be buzzed and a bit exhausted.


Molina must have felt like the ring was tilted in round nine as Matthysse attacked as if he was now fighting downhill.   A round ten barrage forced Molina to take a knee and an eight count.  The California native fought back enough to make it to the end of the round.


The minute between rounds would not be enough for Molina to recover, and when Matthysse launched his final attack, Molina dropped to the canvas and the fight was waved off 22 seconds into the eleventh round.


Matthysse had indeed risen, and by digging deep in a fight of the year candidate he is right back on the doorstep for a title shot.   Molina’s stock only rose in defeat, and he not only proved that he could take anyone’s punch in the junior welterweight division, but he also brought his own power up the scale.


This fight was not highly anticipated but it will be long remembered.  As a boxing fan I would like to thank these warriors for reminding me why we sacrifice so many weekends to sit in front of the TV to watch boxing.   Rarely can a match-maker predict when they signed a truly great fight, but when one unfolds the drama that comes along with it is unmatched by anything else we see in sports.


In the televised opener, lightweight titlist Omar Figueroa (22-0-1, 17 KO)  returned to the ring after a nine month layout seeking to gain revenge against amateur nemesis Jerry Belmontes (19-3, 5 KO).  Belmontes authored five victories over Figueroa in the amateurs, but many felt that Figueroa’s aggression and power punching would bode well for him in the professional ranks.  After 12 rounds, two of the three judges favored Figueroa’s aggression in a fight that proved to be much closer than many experts expected.


In the early rounds Belmontes showed the form that led him to amateur success.  He kept Figueroa at the end of his jab, and landed clean right hands when he chose to let his hands go.  Early success may have spoiled Belmontes as he soon abandoned his jab and allowed Figueroa’s punch output to increase.


Each fighter had their moments in the middle rounds, but neither fighter was able to land anything significant that would turn the momentum in their favor.


As the fight reached its final quarter, Belmontes relied on his legs to create distance and disarm Figueroa of his offense.  Belmontes threw and landed more accurately and seemed to display superior ring generalship.


The final bell rang, and the fighters fates were left in the hands of the three ringside judges.  Herbert Minn favored Belmontes 115-113.  Burt Clements favored Figueroa’s aggression and handed in a card of 116-112.  David Mendoza then handed in a card that he must have filled in as soon as he was given this assignment.  His card of 118-110 for Figueroa proved that Belmontes would have needed a knockout to get his arm raised. 



Jason Pribila is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America.  He could be reached for questions or comments at and followed on twitter @PribsBoxing.


All the results

nterim WBA World welterweight title Keith Thurman w rtd 3 Julio Diaz 
vacant WBC Continental Americas light welterweight title Lucas Martin Matthysse w ko 11John Molina 
WBC lightweight title Omar Figueroa w pts 12 Jerry Belmontes 
middleweight Jermall Charlo w rtd 4 Hector Munoz 
welterweight Frankie Gomez w ko 2 Orlando Vazquez 
Lightweight Sharif Bogere w tko 6 Arturo Urena 
light middleweight Terrell Gausha w pts 8 Charles Whittaker 
super bantamweight Joseph Diaz w pts 6 Luis Maldonado 
middleweight Yamaguchi Falcao w pts 4 Fernando Najera 
welterweight Bryant Perrella w tko 1 Roberto Crespo


April 27, 2014

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