It was a war 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. – LUCAS MATTHYSSE
(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. – JOHN MOLINA
Photo Credit: Esther Lin/Showtime
CARSON, California — Lucas Matthysse’s return to action produced one of the most dramatic fights thus far in 2014, as the former titlist overcame two knockdowns to score an 11th round knockout against John Molina last night at the Stub Hub Center.
In the main event, Keith Thurman did his job but in anti-climatic fashion when Julio Diaz was forced to retire on his stool after suffering a rib injury. And in the opener, Omar Figueroa was the beneficiary of biased scoring to keep his undefeated record intact with a split decision over Jerry Belmontes. For a night filled with mismatches on paper, fans got three competitive fights that could possibly top what we’ll see next weekend on the Mayweather-Maidana card.
MOLINA A LIGHTWEIGHT NO MORE: Despite coming up from lightweight, Molina towered over Matthysse in height and girth, looking much more solid and powerful at 140 pounds. The simmering tension was broken in the final minute on round one when Molina stunned and wobbled Matthysse with an overhand right. Matthysse recovered, but found himself in a deeper hole in the second when a short, clubbing right hand dropped him to his knees.
Last night was just Molina’s second bout at 140 since November, but he’s already shown this is where he belongs. People had a right to be skeptical going in, but last night’s performance should erase any questions about his durability still lingering from the 2012, Antonio DeMarco 1st round KO loss.
MATTHYSSE LIVES UP TO HIS NICKNAME: After getting rocked in the first, dropped in the second, and cut badly above the left eyebrow via a head butt in the third, most fighters would understandably get gunshy and a bit out of sorts at the string of bad luck.
His response to adversity shows why in spite of his limitations, the man is unquestionably a top fighter at junior welterweight. Matthysse pressed forward the entire fight, pounding home a ramrod jab, slashing hooks to the body, and chopping rights upstairs. When Molina lingered inside, Matthysse made him pay with vicious left hooks. By the middle rounds, Molina’s face had become mis-shapen, and the side of his head exhibited a bloody gash that resembled a gunshot wound.
Outside of the second and fifth, the two rounds Matthysse was dropped in (the latter was definitely a foul to the back of the head), you could make a valid case for Matthysse winning every round.
A WARRIOR’S STAND: Matthysse was winning the rounds, but Molina made sure he got a painful receipt every three minutes. Whenever Matthysse appeared close to ending it, Molina would buy more time with a heavy right hand haymaker. A left hook followed by a shove gave Matthysse a sketchy knockdown of his own in the eighth, but the real story was Molina being clearly on fumes at the bell with Matthysse close to a stoppage win.
After more one-way punishment in the ninth, Molina was dropped for a second time by a barrage of Matthysse power shots on the ropes. Molina, no doubt getting the benefit of the doubt from referee Pat Russell due to his previous comebacks, was allowed to fight through the round. However, his trainer Joe Goossen had to literally fight off doctors in the corner to allow his man to get one more round.
Unfortunately for Molina, a miraculous comeback was not to be. Matthysse pounced with his best shots to start the 11th and Molina was down again in short order, ending a fight that has likely taken years off both men’s careers.
STYLES OVER EVERYTHING: During the early rounds, a lot of fight fans on Twitter were claiming that Danny Garcia had “ruined” Matthysse and making other knee-jerk comments. And as expected, everyone was back in love with him again by the final bell.
Here’s the big problem with that “logic.” Danny Garcia himself looked pretty bad and ineffective in his last fight against Mauricio Herrera. Does that mean Matthysse “ruined” Garcia? What it means is that we should never forget the age-old boxing statement that “styles make fights.” This is ultimately why the “Mayweather way” of picking fights is faulty, in that Floyd just decides to fight the guy with the “biggest win” or name at the time. For all we know, there’s some random, #9 ranked welterweight in the Ukraine that could give Mayweather hell. But we’ll never see it. With guys like Matthysse and Garcia, we get the luxury of seeing them in with diverse opponents that showcase their best attributes and most glaring weaknesses.[youtube http://youtu.be/wl1IwsjW2YE]
THURMAN’S ROLL CONTINUES: Keith Thurman came out with guns blazing and the old veteran Julio Diaz could only take a few rounds before breaking down. To Diaz’s credit, he was coming forward and forcing the fight in the third before retiring due to a busted rib. In fact, he briefly stunned Thurman with a wild right before the round ended. Nonetheless, the fight outcome was never really in doubt — Thurman had dropped him in the second with a short left hook, and had rocked him badly with a lead left uppercut. The power was just too much.
Thurman made it known in the post-fight interview he welcomes a unification fight with Shawn Porter, who closed the book on Paulie Malignaggi last week. Since Porter still has a mandatory in Kell Brook, it would be a wise move if Thurman can get added to that card if it’s made in the States. Should they meet, I favor Porter to get the job done.
As for Diaz, this marks his third consecutive defeat. The 34-year old has been at it a long enough to have ranked versions of Angel Manfredy and Jose Luis Castillo on his resume. Based on his comments about having to “make room” for younger fighters, don’t be surprised if he hangs it up.[youtube http://youtu.be/23XH2GD7IYo]
FIGUEROA GETS LUCKY: In the opener, Omar Figueroa escaped with a split decision (113-115, 116-112, and 118-110) over long-time rival Jerry Belmontes, who holds five amateur wins over him. On fair cards, Belmontes would probably have a professional win too, as he controlled Figueroa in the early rounds with sharp counter-punching and movement. To Figueroa’s credit, he closed the gap in the middle rounds and made it an inside fight, were he held an edge in workrate.
The final rounds saw Belmontes get back to his early success by keeping Figueroa on the outside and popping him with counter shots. It was all for naught, as the last two scorecards showed that the house fighter in Figueroa got all the extra help he needed. Figueroa later gave a ridiculous “apology” to fans, claiming that he tried to make the fight but couldn’t because Belmontes ran. What he should have apologized for is not being able to cut off the ring and get Belmontes out of his comfort zone. If Figueroa doesn’t use this as a learning tool and a wake-up call that not every fight is going to be a Nihito Arakawa slugfest, he’s in for a lot more frustrating fights in the future.