By Keith Idec
Emmanuel Taylor is 3-3 in his past six fights and an undeniable underdog against Lucas Matthysse.
Taylor still senses he has advantages entering their 10-round welterweight fight on the Canelo Alvarez-Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. undercard May 6 in Las Vegas. Matthysse will end a 19-month layoff that night and got knocked out by Viktor Postol in his last fight.
The former interim WBC 140-pound champion also suffered a serious eye injury during his 10th-round loss to Ukraine’s Postol (28-1, 12 KOs), who’s not known as a puncher, in October 2015. The fractured orbital bone around his left eye was a large part of the reason the knockout artist from Argentina took such an extended break from boxing.
“I think I got him at the perfect time,” Taylor said during a conference call Tuesday. “He’s coming off of a KO loss, an eye injury. His last fight before [the knockout loss to Postol], he was in a war. So I think I caught him at the right time right now because of the long layoff. This is perfect timing for me – perfect.”
The “war” to which Taylor referred was the bout before Matthysse lost to Postol. Matthysse beat Russia’s Ruslan Provodnikov (25-5, 18 KOs) by majority decision, but their 12-round encounter in April 2015 was a brutal battle that took a lot out of Matthysse.
The 34-year-old Matthysse’s issues aside, Taylor hardly expects an easy fight next month at T-Mobile Arena. Taylor (20-4, 14 KOs), of Edgewood Arsenal, Maryland, admits he has never fought a punishing puncher like Matthysse (37-4, 34 KOs, 1 NC), but is confident he can withstand Matthysse’s most powerful shots.
“In camp, my coach watches a lot of tape on him,” Taylor said. “We’ve got different tactics that we’re gonna use in this fight. We’ve got a great plan for this fight, a great plan. If we get hit with a big shot, we know how to recover. It’ll show in the fight how we’ve been working on things and how it’s gonna play out.”
Taylor has been dropped once apiece by Adrien Broner, Karim Mayfield and Victor Cayo, but got up each time and won two of those fights.
Broner beat Taylor by unanimous decision in their 10-rounder in September 2014. Taylor overcame knockdowns in those other two fights to defeat Mayfield by unanimous decision in a 10-rounder seven weeks before he boxed Broner and conquered Cayo by eighth-round technical knockout in March 2013.
The 26-year-old Taylor has not been knocked out during his eight-year pro career. Matthysse has knocked out 83 percent of his professional opponents since making his pro debut in June 2004.
Upsetting Matthysse, even as the former champion comes off a lengthy layoff and a knockout defeat, still would represent by far the most noteworthy victory of Taylor’s career.
“It’s a real big deal,” Taylor said. “I just wanna get back in there, do my thing, do what I do best. Lucas Matthysse, he’s a great fighter. He’s real strong, real durable. And I’m just looking forward to this fight coming up. I’ve been training hard, working hard. It means everything in the world to me. And I’m just real excited for this opportunity.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.