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MONDAY AM QB: Matthysse Takes Checkered Flag

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004-Matthysse-victory-IMG5-20-2013ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. _ Anyone who has ever attended a NASCAR race knows there is a world of difference between watching the sport on television and being there in person. On TV, the cars don’t seem nearly as fast, or as powerful, as they really are. If you’re sitting in the stands, especially if you’re close to the track, the noise and vibration of a 190-mph racecar vrooming past is akin to finding yourself at the edge of a tornado.

Saturday night, in Boardwalk Hall, referee Steve Smoger had an especially close view of the high-octane thrust of Argentine power puncher Lucas “The Machine” Matthysse, and it was Smoger who decided to wave the checkered flag before the completion of lap, uh, Round 3, lest Lamont Peterson slam into the retaining wall once too often.

Peterson (31-2-1, 16 KOs), whose IBF junior welterweight championship was not on the line in the catchweight bout (the contract limit was 141 pounds), had already been floored three times when Smoger stepped in and waved it off 2 minutes, 14 seconds into the third of the scheduled 12 rounds. To let matters continue beyond that point, Smoger decided, would simply be to invite disaster for the obviously woozy Peterson.

“The first significant punch (Matthysse) landed in Round 1, I could see Lamont was very hurt,” said Smoger. “But he recovered. In Round 2, I was very tempted to stop it after the first knockdown, but Lamont recovered again. He responded to me verbally. He walked to me when I asked him to. Still, I said to myself, `The next time he takes a shot like that, I’m putting an end to this.’”

So when Matthysse (34-2, 32 KOs), whose 94.1 knockout percentage is among the highest of any fighter in any weight class, sent Peterson crashing to the canvas for the third time, Smoger knew what to do.

“His power,” Smoger said of Matthysse, “is very significant.”

No ratings information yet as to the size of the Showtime audience for the televised doubleheader — IBF welterweight champion Devon Alexander (25-1, 14 KOs) was awarded a seventh-round TKO over England’s Lee Purdy (20-4-1, 13 KOs) in a non-title bout when Purdy’s corner did not allow him to come out for Round 8 — but the on-site audience, a disappointing 4,250, had to realize that what they had just seen might be the start of something big. There is the very real possibility American fight fans had just witnessed the arrival of boxing’s Next Big Thing, even if that big thing is 30 years old, doesn’t speak English and has been a professional since 2004.

When you have the potential to take anyone out at any time with a well-placed haymaker, by definition you are star material.

“I asked Paulie Malignagggi (the WBA welterweight titlist who was in attendance), `Who can beat this guy?’” said Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer, who can see Matthysse-generated dollar signs shimmering in the near future. “Paulie said, `Somebody who can fight a perfect fight for 12 rounds. And by `perfect,’ I mean somebody who can’t even get touched by the guy because if you get touched, you’ll probably go down.’”

The probable next opponent to be touched by Matthysse –and who might prove more capable of touching him back than was Peterson –is WBC/WBA super lightweight champion Danny “Swift” Garcia (26-0, 16 KOs ), who also is a fair hand at making short nights of his fights. Garcia was at ringside to scout Matthysse in what now seems to be an almost-done deal for a Sept. 7 slugfest, probably in the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C.

“It’s very likely,” Schaefer said off a Garcia-Matthysse matchup that would come prepackaged as a contender for Fight of the Year consideration. “I’ve discussed the fight with Al Haymon, Danny’s manager, who represents Lucas as well. That’s the fight we’re going to do. It’s a fight I want to do, it’s a fight fans want to see. Danny Garcia is a fighter who’s never turned down anybody. He’s a great fighter. A lot of people might underestimate him, but he always steps up and delivers. He delivers big.”

Among those disposed to underestimate Garcia is Matthysse, who dissed the Philadelphian as just another victim-in-waiting.

“He’s a slow fighter,” Matthysse said of Garcia, notwithstanding the champion’s zippy nickname. “He’s slow, he’s wide open. I know I would win that fight as well.”

Garcia, for his part, doesn’t sound like someone inclined to duck anyone.

“You know me,” he said earlier last week. “I’ll fight anybody.”

Matthysse isn’t without his vulnerabilities, given his split-decision losses to Zab Judah and Alexander, although his supporters insist that he was jobbed on both occasions. But his status as a really big bopper continues to grow, putting him in a category with such legendary KO artists as Earnie Shavers, Julian Jackson and a handful of others who had to be considered dangerous for every second of every round, regardless of the round-by-round scorecards submitted by the judges.

IBF light heavyweight champion Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins, at 48, has seen and done everything there is to do in the ring, and was as wowed as Malignaggi by Matthysse’s demonstration of blunt-force trauma. He was so impressed, in fact, that the Golden Boy executive, in a moment of candor, admitted that he wouldn’t be too eager to put his Philly homeboy, Garcia, in with Matthysse just yet.

“I’ve never seen a (junior welterweight) hit like a heavyweight, or close to it,” Hopkins said. “I guarantee, there’s a lot of 140-pound guys who are not sleeping good tonight.

“My strategy (for fighting someone like Matthysse) would be to get the guy snoring. As soon as he got to the point where he was falling asleep, then I would start fighting. That’s the strategy you got to use against somebody who’s got dynamite in both hands. You got to get him to blow off some steam.

“Peterson was doing the right thing early on, but somehow he got brave or tired. Brave and tired can turn all men into (losers).”

And what of Garcia, whose courage and willingness to mix it up is beyond dispute? Would he meet Matthysse head-on, and maybe be the guy to land the first crushing shot win?

“I told Richard I don’t want to see that fight right now,” said Hopkins, who considers Garcia something of a protégé. “If it was up to me, I wouldn’t do it.”

Asked if Garcia’s meat-and-potatoes style was “tailor-made” for Matthysse, Hopkins said, “Yes.”

Alexander, a slick southpaw whose title also was not on the line –Purdy, a late fill-in for the injured Kell Brook, came in a pound over the 140-pound limit at the weigh-in, and was able take off only two-tenths of a pound within the allotted period –has that disputed split decision over Matthysse to his credit, but he clearly does not pack the putaway pop of the Argentine. He landed 176 of 625 punches against Purdy, 157 of those connections being “power” shots, according to CompuBox, but the stoppage was more a matter of steady, incremental damage than the result of a Matthysse-type lightning bolt.

“I hurt my left hand in the first round,” Alexander explained. “I had to switch up and use my right, my hook and my uppercut.”

Next up for Alexander might be a unification bout with WBC welterweight king Floyd Mayweather Jr., widely acknowledged as the best pound-for-pound fighter on the planet. The St. Louis resident believes he can pull off the upset, if given the chance.

“Everybody wants to prove they’re the one to beat Floyd,” he said. “I definitely want that fight. I’ve never shied away from any opponent. I’ve been fighting since I’ve been seven years old. What makes him better than me?”

Uh … a firm grasp on reality? Not that Alexander is chopped liver, but his best doesn’t beat Mayweather’s best. That’s pretty much guaranteed. But everyone who throws down with Floyd harbors the hope that maybe, just maybe, he’ll have the off-night of their dreams. And even they catch Floyd at the top of his game, well, at least the payday for making the attempt is sure to salve their pain.

To his credit, Peterson, who retained his title strap despite the beatdown, insisted he was ready, willing and maybe even able to again put himself into Matthysse’s line of fire after going down three times.

“”The beginning plan was to keep boxing,” Peterson said. “Sometime in the second round I got hit in the back of the head and got a little upset. I got a little more reckless and wanted to bang. I could feel the fight heating up. I kind of abandoned the plan a little bit and I paid for it.

“He’s a good puncher. He had me hurt. I was hoping (Smoger) wouldn’t stop the fight because I feel I can weather any storm. I was willing to fight on.”

It is the warrior’s creed, one that the late Arturo Gatti – Atlantic City’s longtime franchise fighter who had consecrated the canvas in Boardwalk Hall with no small amount of his and his opponents’ blood – would surely appreciate. But Matthysse can bring the crowd to its feet even when he misses, which is what happened when he fell down after whiffing on a huge left hook in the second round. He didn’t miss the next time he threw a loaded-up bomb, setting into motion the chain reaction that had Smoger on Good Samaritan alert.

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Avila Perspective, Chap. 274: Ryan Garcia and Devin Haney in Hollywood, Jake, Amanda and More

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HOLLYWOOD, Ca.- Adorned in a white suit, Ryan “King Ry” Garcia arrived on a big white horse followed by a handful of fair maidens dressed in various colors and some twirling hula hoops into the Avalon Theater on Vine Street on Thursday.

Inside the historic theater that once served as the Hollywood Canteen during World War 2, where actors like Humphrey Bogart, Bette Davis and Rita Hayworth greeted soldiers, but this time it was the boxing media waiting.

Garcia (24-1, 20 KOs) will challenge undefeated Devin Haney (31-0, 15 KOs) for the WBC super lightweight world title on April 20 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. DAZN pay-per-view will stream the Golden Boy Promotions card.

It doesn’t get more Hollywood than this.

Inside the 97-year-old theater, once the two opposing factions arrived, the pageantry turned into a war of words, taunts and accusations.

This is boxing.

Aside from the taunts and words of derision tossed at each other, the Haney father and son combination admitted that Garcia was the one fighter willing to fight Devin.

“He (Garcia) raised his hand when no one else did,” said Bill Haney the father.

Devin Haney sat next to his father on the stage anxious as ever to prove his talent in the prize ring. After his victory over Regis Prograis that followed wins over Vasyl Lomachenko and George Kambosos, the former undisputed lightweight world champion is now dwelling in the super lightweight division and holds the WBC version.

“I was killing myself trying to make the weight,” said Haney about moving up to the 140-pound super lightweight division.

Haney has long been familiar with Ryan Garcia since their amateur days as they met in the boxing ring six times as youths.

“They fought six times in the amateurs with both of them winning three apiece. Now they meet with championship gold and the chance at being the face of American boxing on the line,” said Oscar De La Hoya, the promoter and head of Golden Boy Promotions. “In other words, this one counts!”

Garcia and Haney have taken similar paths.

Garcia fought professionally numerous times in Mexico where it is legal to fight under the age of 18. So did Haney. Both faced unknown opponents, sometimes last-minute changes forced them to fight foes that were not originally scheduled.

As pros, the two similarly and eagerly sought to face the best opponents possible despite their inexperience. Both proved more than capable.

Garcia quickly amassed a surprisingly large following of fans through social media and through his exploits of sudden knockouts from his uncanny speed.

“Everything I have today, I earned it,” said Garcia. “Nobody gave me a handout, I never had money, I’m really a small town boy.”

Haney proved able to defeat veteran world champions feared for their technical expertise with his own buttery-smooth fighting prowess.

“I am happy to be here. I worked hard to be here. I sacrificed a lot to be here, and at the end of the day, the world will see it on April 20,” said Devin Haney.

Next month in Brooklyn the two longtime foes will be performing. Will it be the biggest grossing pay-per-view of the year 2024?

Jake and Amanda

Jake Paul and Amanda Serrano are boxing’s best tag team.

Several years ago, Paul recognized that Serrano, a seven-division world champion Puerto Rican was capable of much more than fighting on the small stage.

Genius.

Paul signed Serrano to his Most Valuable Promotions company and together they have been able to draw a mixture of fans long ignored by other promoters.

Welcome to the age of the influencers.

For the past several years Paul has fought MMA stars, boxers and other social media influencers. And when he signed Serrano she fought Katie Taylor in front of a sold-out Madison Square Garden where their fight drew more than a million pay-per-views.

Paul (8-1, 5 KOs) meets Ryan Bourland (17-2, 6 KOs) in an eight-round cruiserweight fight on Saturday March 2, at Coliseo Jose Miguel Agrelot in San Juan, Puerto Rico. DAZN will stream the card.

He will be co-piloting the fight card with the great Amanda Serrano (46-2-1, 30 KOs) who will be defending the undisputed featherweight world championship against Germany’s Nina “the Brave” Meinke (18-3, 4 KOs).

Once again Serrano and Paul will share a very good fight card that also features female super flyweights Krysti Rosario-Ortiz (2-0) and Gloria Munguilla (5-0).

Others on the card include Javon “Wanna” Walton, a featherweight out of Atlanta, Georgia. If he looks familiar there is a reason. He was featured in the Sylvester Stallone film Samaritan and also appeared in the HBO series Euphoria.

Walton has always boxed and now will be a part of the Paul and Serrano team.

Paul has that magic touch for attracting fans to boxing.

Just today Most Valuable Promotions signed Indian prizefighter Neeraj Goyat. The welterweight fighter was recently seen on social media approaching Paul in his training camp and daring the fighter to meet him in the boxing ring. The short video clip attracted more than 150 million views.

Paul, ever the think-out-of-the-box promoter, signed Goyat immediately.

“In just 2.5 years, MVP has organized some of the world’s most significant boxing events, and I’m excited to work with MVP to elevate the status of professional boxing in India and bring attention to boxers from India globally,” said an excited Goyat.

“His viral callouts of Jake Paul certainly got our attention,” said MVP co-founder Nakisa Bidarian.

Out-of-the box thinking.

Fights to Watch (all times Pacific Time)

Sat. DAZN 1:30 p.m. Amanda Serrano (46-2-1) vs Nina Meinke (18-3).

Sat. ESPN+ 2:10 pm Otabek Kholmatov 12-0, 11 KOs) vs. Raymod Ford (14-0-1, 7 KOs); Luis Alberto Lopez (29-2, 16 KOs) vs Reiya Abe (25-3-1, 10 KOs)

Photo credit: Al Applerose

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Madueno Upsets Pauldo and Lopez Overcomes Escudero at Whitesands

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Madueno Upsets Pauldo and Lopez Overcomes Escudero at Whitesands

When it comes to professional boxing down in the Tampa Bay area, Canadian transplant Garry Jonas is a one-man band.

The architect of the Wednesday Night Fights series, Jonas doesn’t have to pay a site fee for the shows that he promotes because he owns the venue. The shows that he stages at his Whitesands Events Center in Plant City air on his live streaming platform ProBoxTV. His series currently has only one sponsor, a bookmaking operation called SportsBetting.Ag., and he owns that too. (A self-styled serial entrepreneur, Jonas continued his assault on the established order last week with his purchase of the respected Boxing Scene website, but that’s a story best saved for another day.)

Jonas promotes high-grade club fights. When he started this venture, he promised entertaining, well-matched fights and tonight he delivered. The “A” side fighters in the co-main events were matched tough.

In the featured bout, lightweight Justin Pauldo (17-2, 1 NC) was upset by Mexico’s Miguel Madueno. Managed by Jolene Mazzone, the former VP and matchmaker for Main Events and trained by Ronnie Shields, Pauldo, a resident or nearby Orlando, was unbeaten in his last 12 heading in.

In his previous start, Madueno turned in a lackluster performance against surging Canadian campaigner Steve Claggett. His showing (he was 30-1 with 28 KOs heading in) was inconsistent with his record. Tonight, he was more pugnacious, out-working the man in front of him, a 4/1 favorite. The decision was split; 97-92 and 95-94 for Madueno, 95-94 for Pauldo. There were no knockdowns, but the Mexican had a point deducted in round 5 for leading with his head.

Co-Feature

The co-main was an entertaining 10-round light heavyweight affair in which Edgar Berlanga stablemate Najee Lopez improved to 10-0 (8) with a hard-earned majority decision over Marcos Escudero (14-3). One of the judges had it a draw (95-95) but he was overruled by his cohorts who had it 97-93 and 99-91.

Lopez, who is of Puerto Rican descent but was born and raised in the Atlanta area, hadn’t previously gone beyond six rounds. He was the house fighter. Named the 2023 Prospect of the Year by the ProBox team of TV commentators, Lopez was making his eighth appearance at Whitesands. Escudero, a South Florida-based Argentine had won four straight heading in at club shows in Delray Beach, FL after back-to-back setbacks in competitive fights with Joseph George.

Escudero, who did most of the leading, had many good moments. The 99-91 tally against the Argentine was a head-scratcher. (Commentator Paulie Malignaggi said the offending  judge, Alvaro Rodriguez, should have his fee withheld and be forced to serve a one-year suspension.)

Also

In an 8-round lightweight contest, former two-time Olympian Tsendbaatar Erdenebat, a 27-year-old Mongolian southpaw who began his pro career in China and now resides in southern California, improved to 9-0 (4) with a unanimous decision over Guinea-born Mohamed Soumaoro (11-3) who was a willing mixer but was out-classed. The scores were 79-73 and 80-72 twice.

As one would expect from a two-time Olympian, Erdenebat is a good technician who puts his punches together well, but doesn’t have a lot of power. If his name rings a bell, he’s the fellow who purportedly sent Ryan Garcia to the hospital from the effects of a body punch during a sparring session.

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Two Featherweight Title Fights Top a Strong Bill at Turning Stone on Saturday

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When Top Rank announced in December that they would be returning to Turning Stone Resort & Casino for an ESPN+ show on March 2nd featuring two featherweight world title fights they promised a deep action-packed show. Usually such words fall by the wayside as the event ultimately comes together but in this instance the docket is loaded from top to bottom with name attractions, undefeated prospects, local grudge matches and two very well-matched co-headliners.

In the first of the co-headliners, Luis Alberto Lopez (29-2, 16 KOs) makes the third defense of his IBF featherweight belt against Japan’s Reiya Abe (25-3-1, 10 KOs). Lopez is a popular brawler whose aggressive style and lack of attention to defense usually makes for entertaining fights. Abe, a southpaw, is a slick boxer who is coming off a career best win against Kiko Martinez last April. Abe has a style similar to that of Ruben Villa who outboxed Lopez to a ten round unanimous decision win in 2019.

The co-headline finale is being contested for the vacant WBA featherweight title between Otabek Kholmatov (12-0, 11 KOs) and Raymond Ford (14-0-1, 7 KOs). Both fighters were highly touted heading into the pro ranks. Ford has the speed advantage but Kholmatov has a big edge in power. Social media seems split right down the middle on this fight and oddsmakers agree installing Kholmatov as a very slight favorite as of this writing.

Also on this show is the return of the ever popular Nico Ali Walsh (9-1, 5 KOs) who bounced back from his first career defeat on Dec. 16 at a show in Guinea where he defeated a Frenchman with a 9-2-1 record (mysteriously, that fight isn’t yet listed on boxrec). He will face off against Luke Iannuccilli (7-0, 3 KOs). Walsh, Muhammad Ali’s grandson, will make his debut at Turning Stone Resort Casino in the same exact arena where his aunt and Boxing Hall of Famer Laila Ali made her professional boxing debut in October of 1999 with her legendary father sitting ringside. This will mark the fourth time a member of Muhammad Ali’s family has fought at Turning Stone.

The card also includes several contests featuring up-and-coming undefeated fighters. One match in particular to keep an eye on is an eight-round welterweight bout between a pair of unbeaten fighters in Rohan Polanco (11-0, 7 KOs) and Tarik Zaina (13-0-1, 8 KOs). Zaina opened some eyes last November when he defeated Marcelino Lopez and Polanco is coming off three consecutive wins against opponents who had a cumulative record of 39-3.

Finally I would be remiss if I didn’t notate the local grudge match on the docket between Gerffred Ngayot (6-1, 5 KOs) of Buffalo and Bryce Mills (14-1, 5 KOs) of Syracuse. They are scheduled to face off in a six-round bout in the 140-pound division. They are on this show because each have solid local fan bases and matching them was a way to help fill the stands. Mills is a sharp accurate counterpuncher with all-around solid skills. Ngayot is an aggressive fighter who is not afraid to be first and fire away to the body. Stylistically this could turn into quite a barnburner and each have plenty of motivation to make a statement on what is a much bigger stage than they are accustomed to.

We are often quick to criticize those in the sport when cards come together that are seemingly either loaded with mismatches or bouts that just don’t pique much interest. This is an instance where those involved need to be applauded for putting together a card from top to bottom that will certainly give fans plenty of bang for their buck.

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