By Jake Donovan
Mainstream focus is squarely on the evening’s main event, but the real treat for the sport’s hardcore comes in the evening’s chief support.
An hour or so before Floyd Mayweather and Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez hit the ring for their blockbuster showdown, the vacant super lightweight crown is at stake in a fantasy matchup between unbeaten Danny ‘Swift’ Garcia and knockout artist Lucas Matthysse.
Puerto Rico remains a boxing hotbed, but its fighters haven’t produced very good results as of late. The one constant remains Garcia, Philly-born and raised but whose Boricua roots shine through in every facet of his life.
The unified alphabet titlist has been perfect so far in his young career, including a breakout 2012 campaign that saw him post two wins over legendary Erik Morales and rally to knockout Amir Khan. His most recent performance, a close-but-clear points win over former two-division champion Zab Judah in April, solidified his place as the top-rated 140 lb. fighter in the world.
All that considered, Garcia still comes in as the prohibitive underdog.
Matthysse quickly evolved into a cult hero in the sport. The Argetine puncher has scored knockouts in frightening fashion, none bigger than his three-round destruction of Lamont Peterson in May. The win led promoter Richard Schaefer to proclaim him as “the next Manny Pacquiao,” due to his all-action style.
The lone two losses of Matthysse’s career have come in close decision losses, both of which were debatable. Both Judah and Devon Alexander hit the deck in their respective bouts with Matthysse, but managed to escape with disputed decisions that many felt should have gone the other way.
Will boxing be enough to once again trip up the sport’s most thrilling knockout artist, or will power rule the day and result in the first loss of one of the most talented fighters in the world today?
Read on to see how the staff at Boxingscene.com believes the 140 lb. championship bout plays out.
PREDICTIONS – DANNY ‘SWIFT’ GARCIA vs. LUCAS MATTHYSSE
“I think Matthysse continues his recent run of knockouts, stopping Garcia in the fourth round of a slugfest.”
- Mitch Abramson (Matthysse TKO4)
“I expect the fireworks to begin early with both men possibly hitting the canvas. I think after going down for the 3rd or 4th time, Garcia rises to his feet only for the ref to wave off the fight.”
- Ryan Burton (Matthysse TKO4)
“I think people are severely underrating Garcia's chances, and overrating Matthysse as some sort of gloved terrorist. Garcia doesn't do anything great but does everything well and is one of the more complete fighters in the sport today. I see him surviving Matthysse's most vicious moments to take a clear decision win.”
- Jake Donovan (Garcia by decision)
“Danny Garcia is going to have to box the most disciplined fight of his career against Lucas Martin Matthysse and "Swift" will be riled by the attention that Matthysse's power is receiving. Despite this, he knows that he cannot get caught up in a shootout and I believe he'll box carefully early, start to pull away in the middle rounds and weather a late storm to take a decision win.”
- Terence Dooley (Garcia by decision)
“Never do I allow personal biases to inform a fight prediction (Viva Argentina), but is Matthysse stopping Garcia in the middle stanzas anything but inevitable? The Machine’s fists are a heat missile; Garcia’s chin, the target.”
- Kim Francesca-Martinez (Matthysse TKO5)
“Garcia turned out to be much better than I initially was expecting. I just think the Matthysse train runs through him. Garcia has shown himself to be hittable against guys such as Zab Judah and Amir Khan. The difference is that Matthysse hits harder than they do, and I think he'll blast through Garcia. I hope to be proven otherwise, though — I'd love for this fight to steal the show, not just for one fighter to do so.”
- David P. Greisman (Matthysse by TKO within six rounds)
“He may not have the fastest hands or the most immaculate defense, but Danny Garcia just finds a way to win with his explosive left hook and accuracy in the pocket. However, Lucas Matthysse has knockout power in both hands and the ability to apply consistent pressure. I see the Argentine eventually stopping Garcia down the middle with the straighter, harder punches as he sets his sights on a possible future showdown with Floyd Mayweather.”
- Ryan Maquinana (Matthysse TKO10)
“Garcia is good. He has risen to and passed every challenge put in front of him in the boxing ring. Matthysse is special. He has 2 questionable SD losses. Outside of that, he has blown through almost everybody that's been put in front of him; 2008 was the last time he has not won by a stoppage. When Matthysse ripped through Lamont Petersen to win his belt, he showed that he could no longer be ignored. After he rips through Danny Garcia, I'd like to see him give up his unified title and take his power up to 147 for bigger challenges and bigger paydays.”
- Richard Najdowski (Matthysse by TKO)
“Garcia has quick hands and should be able to land on Matthysse but his flagging stamina late against Judah gave pause. Matthysse gets stronger as the fight goes on. Garcia may have a surprising early lead but, ultimately, the accuracy of Matthysse will set up a stoppage.”
- Cliff Rold (Matthysse by TKO)
“If there is a fight I can't wait for more in boxing, it's Matthysse-Garcia. Or Garcia-Matthysse. Take your pick. I know Garcia is holds the world title belts, but Matthysse is the favorite. Matthysse has fought the better opposition and you could make the case he is still unbeaten after two close and even controversial losses to Zab Judah and Devon Alexander. Garcia has wins over Erik Morales (twice) and a knockout over Amir Khan. My question is: would Matthysse do as good if not better against Morales and Khan than Garcia did. In my opinion, yes. I wouldn't be surprised if someone scores a flash knockdown early, but Matthysse stops him by round 8.”
- Francisco Salazar (Matthysse TKO8)
“Going with my gut instead of my head but I just can't shake the feeling Garcia pulls off the upset once again and stops the Machine Lucas Matthysse. I think Lucas has plenty of success as his hard punching power takes a visible effect on Danny. Despite some scary moments and possibly tasting the canvas, Garcia will catch an aggressive Matthysse coming in as the referee stops the fight.”
- Luis Sandoval (Garcia TKO9)
“Garcia is a good young fighter but he is not a monster or a prodigy he is advertised to be. His struggle against veteran fighter in Judah and earlier against Kendall Holt and Ashley Theophane tells me much of his blemishes. He can punch but he is not a murderous puncher, the Argentinean is. And his chin hasn't been really checked before. Assumption is that he couldn't hold up with a hitter like Matthysse and will eventually be overwhelmed by hard punches of Lucas. A couple of knockdowns and that'l be it.”
- Alexey Sukachev (Matthysse TKO7)
Lucas Matthysse 9
Danny Garcia 3
The vacant lineal super lightweight championship between Danny ‘Swift’ Garcia and Lucas Matthysse takes place Saturday evening at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. The bout serves as the chief support of a four-fight SHOWTIME pay-per-view telecast, which airs live at 9PM ET. Floyd Mayweather and Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez square off in the evening’s main event.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board, Yahoo Boxing Ratings Panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox