by David P. Greisman
Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City - Lucas Matthysse had said he wasn’t worried about the judges taking away a win from him in his fight with Lamont Peterson — and on Saturday he showed precisely why he felt that way, scoring an emphatic third-round technical knockout over Peterson.
Matthysse knocked Peterson down once in the second round and twice more in the third, getting an easy victory over one of the top fighters in the junior welterweight division.
The stoppage came 2 minutes and 14 seconds into the round. Though this bout came at an agreed-upon weight limit of 141 pounds, this win proved Matthysse’s place in the 140-pound weight class. His only losses — split decision defeats to Zab Judah in 2010 and Devon Alexander in 2011 — ranged in nature, depending on your perspective, between debatable and controversial.
Now those losses won’t matter, as he’s put himself in position to face Danny Garcia this September, with the winner being recognized as the undisputed champion in the junior-welterweight division.
Both Matthysse and Peterson had reputations for breaking down their foes with pressure. Peterson had spoken beforehand about utilizing his boxing skills more against an opponent with Matthysse’s style. He did so in the opening round, moving away from Matthysse, working behind a jab and occasionally following with right hands. Peterson landed little in the first, though, while Matthysse landed more.
The distance between the two fighters closed in the second round, and Peterson began to complain of Matthysse hitting him behind the head while on the inside. Matthysse soon landed a lead right hand, backing Peterson up. Not too long afterward, Matthysse landed a left hook higher up on Peterson’s head. Peterson took a step to the right and stumbled down to the canvas for the first knockdown of the night.
Matthysse, emboldened, came out in the third with a wild punch that put himself down on what was correctly ruled a slip. He got up and sent out a left hook and a right hand. Peterson’s legs didn’t appear to be back yet, and he again complained to the referee, Steve Smoger, after being hit behind the head. This time, Smoger warned Matthysse.
Matthysse landed a left hook, and Peterson retaliated with a big right uppercut. Matthysse took the punch and continued to attack. The fight wouldn’t last much longer.
Both fighters soon sent left hooks out at the same time. Both punches landed, but Matthysse’s shot sent Peterson down hard. Peterson sat up but toppled back down. Matthysse lifted his arms in the air, sensing victory.
Peterson beat the count, but his time was running out.
Matthysse landed a right hand, and another left hook, and Peterson went down again. Smoger, who has a reputation for allowing hurt fighters to show whether they can recover, didn’t like what he saw from Peterson and waved the fight off.
Matthysse has now won six fights in a row since the loss to Alexander, none of those bouts going the distance. Peterson was a large step up in class from Matthysse’s past five opponents, but you wouldn’t have known it by looking solely at the result of this bout. Matthysse, a 30-year-old from Argentina, improved to 34-2 with a staggering 32 knockouts (with 1 no contest).
Peterson, meanwhile, suffered his first loss since December 2009, when he was thoroughly out-boxed by Timothy Bradley. Peterson has spoken in the past of his difficulty in making 140 — and he tipped the scales in at the contractual weight of 141 for this bout, while Matthysse still came in at the junior-welterweight limit. Though Peterson still holds a world title at 140 pounds, it seems likely that a move to welterweight could soon come for the 29-year-old from Washington, D.C., who falls to 31-2-1 with 16 knockouts.
IN THE CO-FEATURE
Devon Alexander needed an impressive performance, not only because he could have a fight with Amir Khan coming later in the year, but also because his and Khan’s names have been mentioned as possible opponents for a pay-per-view payday with Floyd Mayweather in the not-too-distant future.
He put forth just such a performance, getting a one-sided win — and a largely one-handed one — over Lee Purdy. Alexander laced together combinations of hooks and uppercuts for seven rounds, getting the victory after Purdy’s corner stopped the bout before the eighth round could begin.
Alexander said he hurt his left hand in the first round. Though he still threw it on occasion, it was his right hand that tore into Purdy. He would combine right hooks to the head with right hooks to the body, or reverse that combination, or follow hooks with right uppercuts. Sometimes he would lead with uppercuts and then follow with hooks, all of these shots effectively splitting or working their way around Purdy’s high guard.
Purdy’s corner had seen enough. His trainer said afterwards that Purdy had experienced trouble in the past with his nose, and he was concerned about the fighter taking any more punishment.
Purdy had come in as a late replacement for Alexander’s original opponent, Kell Brook, who suffered an injury in training camp. The short notice might have been one reason why Purdy had difficulty making the welterweight limit for this fight, coming in a pound over at first and then failing to drop down to 147, checking back in at 147.8.
It didn’t matter that Purdy wouldn’t have been able to win the belt that Alexander captured last year against Randall Bailey — Alexander wasn’t going to let him.
Alexander, 26, of St. Louis, improves to 25-1 with 14 KOs. Purdy, 25, of Colchester, Essex in the United Kingdom, falls to 20-4-1 with 13 KOs.
David P. Greisman is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Follow David on Twitter @fightingwords2 or send questions/comments via email at [email protected]