By Rick Reeno
Golden Boy Promotions CEO, Richard Schaefer, had a vision of putting together a tripleheader where all three fights would have very little running and plenty of punching. That was his idea behind the Showtime televised triple for April 26th from the StubHub Center in Carson, California.
In the main event, WBA interim-welterweight champion Keith Thurman (22-0, 20 KOs) is going to face veteran Julio Diaz (40-9-1, 29 KOs). In 2013, Diaz came close to derailing Amir Khan but came up short after twelve rounds. He was then decisioned by current IBF champion Shawn Porter, who previously fought Diaz to a draw in 2012.
Lucas Matthysse (34-3, 32 KOs) is looking to rebound from last September's decision loss to WBA/WBC junior welterweight champion Danny Garcia. He will enter the ring against another big banger, John Molina (27-3, 22 KOs). In his last fight, Molina was down heavy on the scorecards and rallied to score a knockout over Mickey Bey in the final minute of the tenth and final round.
WBC lightweight champion Omar Figueroa (22-0-1, 17 KOs), inactive since last July's victory over Nihito Arakawa, will defend his title against Jerry Belmontes (19-3, 5 KOs), who comes off an unexpected upset in his last fight, where he scored a wide ten round unanimous decision over previously undefeated Will Tomlinson of Canelo-Angulo card on March 8th. Going into the fight, Tomlinson had signed a deal with Golden Boy and the loss crushed their plans for him.
"I am really excited about this card. I really think it has excitement written all over it," Schaefer told BoxingScene.com. "I think with Julio Diaz, Thurman is going to have to bring his A-game. I think Matthysse returning to 140, everyone wants to see what kind of noise he can make. It is a fantastic card and we should have named the card excitement with an exclamation point behind it. And there is no better venue to bring these bangers, Thurman, Matthysse and Figueroa, than the StubHub Center."
"Belmontes had a sensational win over Wil Tomlinson, who was ranked in the top ten everywhere and undefeated. He was obviously able to beat him and now he's going for a world title. He was recruited as one of the best amateurs and he's been waiting for this kind of opportunity and here it is."
On paper, Diaz, Molina and Belmontes are heavy, heavy underdogs. Schaefer is not exactly selling the opponents as world-beaters, but he anticipates that all three of them are coming to fight and there could be the possibility of an upset if Thurman, Matthysse or Figueroa are not focused or one of them makes the mistake of looking ahead at bigger things.
"Are Thurman, Matthysse and Figueroa the favorites? Absolutely. But these are the kind of fights, where you have established stars who are considered the heavy favorites - that are the most dangerous fights. I can give you a recent example with Danny Garcia and Mauricio Herrera. If you match the guys against opponents, who realize the kind of opportunity that is being presented to them at this point in their careers, it makes them that much more dangerous," Schaefer said.
"Thurman, Matthysse and Figueroa are not going to underestimate their opponents. They are going to train hard, because if they just come in and act like they are the heavy favorites - they are going to be in for a big shock - because Belmontes, Molina and Diaz will be ready. These are top, top divisions and they know that a win over one of those guys can capitulate their career into a different level. I don't know if they are going to win, but I can tell you for sure that they are not coming to lay down. They are going to do whatever they can to win."
"These guys are three of the most exciting fighters in the sport, but because of that they have targets on their backs and their opponents are going to come to win. We saw that in the Garcia vs. Mauricio Herrera fight. Nobody gave Herrera much of a chance, but we saw what happened. I made that clear at the press conference call, that Mauricio Herrera is going to come to win and that's exactly what he did.
"Fighters from that particular region, meaning Riverside or Coachella Valley, they have a history of being spoilers - whether it's a Julio Diaz, who almost scored a knockout in England against Amir Khan or whether it's a Herrera who almost shocked the world with Danny Garcia or whether it's a Josesito Lopez, who beat Victor Ortiz in a fight where not too many people gave Lopez a chance. I don't know what it is. Maybe it's in the water there. These guys are spoilers. Look at [Tim] Bradley as well, who is from that part of the world. These guys come to fight. You are going to see that on April 26th."