by Cliff Rold
The best Jr. Welterweight in the world might be a man from Argentina without one of the major titles. So far, the major titlists have seemed perfectly happy keeping him away from the opportunities. It remains to be seen how long they can run.
They can’t hide forever, not if 30-year old Lucas Matthysse (33-2, 31 KO) continues to perform as he has in scoring five straight knockouts after a disputed decision loss to Devon Alexander. On Saturday night at Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, Matthysse needed only one round to stop 26-year old Mike Dallas Jr. (19-3-1, 8 KO) of Bakersfield, California.
Both men came in below the division limit of 140 lbs., Matthysse at 139 ½ and Dallas at 138 ½. The referee was Robert Byrd.
Before the fight, a bit of controversy broke out in the dressing room when Dallas’s trainer Virgil Hunter viewed Matthysse ingest a supplement called Amino 4500, a workout supplement. The fight went on.
The quick-handed Dallas worked to establish hi jab in the first while Matthysse looked to land his vaunted power shots. He was getting through with some shots, if not to the head then to the chest and body, waiting for an opening. Dallas was wisely tying up when Matthysse got close or pressed him to the corners or ropes.
None of it mattered.
Dallas hung a jab in front of Matthysse and the Argentine exploded with a short right to the head Dallas never saw coming. A left glanced off the forehead, and a right off the back, as the already unconscious Dallas headed face first to the floor. Byrd didn’t need to count to wave his hands at the obvious, the fight halted at 2:26 of the opening round.
Looking to the future, Matthysse made clear through his translator that he is ready for any of the top fighters at 140, paying particular attention to unified WBC/WBA titlist Danny Garcia. As the interim WBC titlist at 140 lbs., Matthysse is technically in a position to act as mandatory to Garcia. The same would be true if the first man to defeat Matthysse, Zab Judah by razor thin decision in 2010, upsets Garcia. Garcia-Judah is slated for February 9.
A fight many thought might be the best of the night going into Saturday turned in an entertaining, exciting upset as 30-year old Mexican Welterweight Jesus Soto Karass (27-8-3, 17 KO), 148, of Los Angeles, earned a ten-round majority decision over 29-year old #3 WBC contender Selcuk Aydin (23-2, 17 KO), 149, a native of Turkey fighting out of Hamburg, Germany. Karass bounced back from a stoppage loss to Marcos Maidana last September. Aydin suffers his second consecutive defeat, losing a decision versus Robert Guerrero last July.
The referee was Russell Mora.
The expected fireworks didn’t take long to begin in round one. While the pace was exact, the punishment was as well. Karass did his best work to the body while Aydin, behind a high guard, did more head hunting. Late in the round, Aydin wobbled Karass with a left hook. Karass responded in round two with a monster right to the head, Aydin absorbing the blow. Karass continued to mix up his offense while Aydin looked for bombs almost exclusively to the head. Neither man was struggling to land.
Karass’s work rate wreaked havoc on Aydin in the third even as the Turk still managed to get in some nasty power shits. The jab of Karass was setting up the steady pressure and Aydin was eating right hands behind it. Round four was more of the exciting same, Karass appearing in spots to be getting Aydin into trouble only for Aydin to move, plant, and land a hard shot to stem the tide.
After appearing to lose round five, Aydin came out with a left hook that visibly shook the legs of Karass in round six. Karass showed no lasting effect, getting right back to work. Karass was warned for a low blow in the round but the rest of his body work stayed above the belt and kept him presumably well above Aydin on the scorecards.
Rounds seven and eight looked much like the rounds before them, Aydin landing hard single shots and being outworked for extended stretches. The latter of the two was the better for Aydin, his activity level picking up enough to perhaps win his first clear round since the opening frame. Karass kept the heat on in the ninth, Aydin still trying to find something to really change the course of the action. When the bell sounded, it looked like he needed a knockout to win.
Aydin didn’t get what he needed in the tenth. Both men let it all hang out in an exciting frame but the story of the fight continued to be played out, Aydin able to land some hard stuff but unable to keep up with the landed output of Karass. When ring announcer Jimmy Lennon Jr. announced the fight had been scored a majority decision, it was easy to fear the worst for Karass.
Judge Ricardo Ocasio came in with a hard to fathom 95-95 but was overwhelmed by what one could call more competent eyes at 97-93 twice for Jesus Soto Karass.
In the televised opener, 22-year old Jr. Middleweight Jermell Charlo (20-0, 10 KO), 153 ½, of Houston, Texas, scored three knockdowns over eight rounds to earn a stoppage over veteran 35-year old Harry Joe Yorgey (25-2, 12 KO), 153 ½, of Bridgeport, Pennsylvania. It was Yorgey’s second stoppage defeat, the other coming at the hands of Alfredo Angulo in 2009.
Charlo controlled the first round with a stiff left jab, rocking Yorgey late. Yorgey went from ricked to dropped twice in the second. A right hand behind the ear sent Yorgey reeling. Charlo chased, landing a left to put him on the deck. Yorgey rose only to find the floor again when a right struck home. Yorgey admirably survived the round with a minute to go, moving and briefly tying up. A right hand nearly dropped him inside twenty seconds but Yorgey kept his feet.
It didn’t take long for the right hand to have Yorgey in trouble again in the third. Fighting at a steady pace, Charlo didn’t press for the knockout, patiently winning the round and letting openings come where they might. Yorgey occasionally found room for short left hooks in rounds three and four, but it didn’t do anything to change the nature of the contest. Charlo’s right was too good, blasting Yorgey into the ropes past the halfway point of the fourth. Yorgey managed to keep off the floor.
The next three rounds looked virtually identical to three and four, Charlo methodically winning the rounds and occasionally rocking Yorgey. The end of the one-sided affair came in the eighth with a final right landing just below the ear. Yorgey dropped, settling on all fours as referee Kenny Bayless began the count. Yorgey appeared ready to try to rise, took a moment, and then lifted himself unsteadily at eight. His legs were gone and he was wobbling back as Bayless halted the action at 1:09 of round eight.
It was the second knockout win of the night in the Charlo family. Twin brother Jermall (11-0, 7 KO), also at Jr. Middleweight, scored a fifth round stoppage off television against Josh Williams (8-5, 5 KO). Interviewed about his win over Yorgey, Jermell said with his brother next to him, “I knew this was mine from the get go…My brother told me to take his heart. That’s what we do because we lions.” Charlo commented that both brothers could have been more aggressive on the nights but were all smiles and compliments on a night where both went to the showers early.
The card was televised in the U.S. on Showtime as part of its “Championship Boxing” series, promoted by Golden Boy Promotions.
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene and a member of the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board, the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]