By Keith Idec
Lamont Peterson respects Lucas Matthysse.
The IBF junior welterweight champion considers the heavy-handed fighter from Argentina to be one of the most dangerous men within his division. Peterson just can’t comprehend why Matthysse is considered one of the most avoided fighters in boxing.
The 29-year-old Peterson pursued the Matthysse match in the immediate aftermath of his eighth-round stoppage of former WBO junior welterweight champion Kendall Holt (28-6, 16 KOs) on Feb. 22 in Washington, D.C., Peterson’s hometown. Peterson-Matthysse, a 12-round, non-title fight set for Saturday night at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City (Showtime; 9 p.m. ET), was made very quickly basically because Peterson pushed for this difficult fight.
“It was the media who said things like, ‘No one wants to fight him,’ ” Peterson said. “When I hear things like that, that are not true, it kind of gets under my skin. I’m like, ‘I’ll fight anyone.’ Not being angry or anything, it’s just the fact that I want to prove to everyone that I’m the best at the weight class (junior welterweight).
“When you hear about the best in the weight class, they were saying his name. So of course that was the person that I wanted to fight to prove myself, and to let people know that someone out here wanted to fight him.”
Of course, avoiding Matthysse might’ve been the safer, smarter strategy. The WBC’s interim 140-pound title-holder has knocked out 31 of his 35 professional opponents and possesses one of the sport’s top knockout ratios (89 percent).
Peterson pinpointed Victor Ortiz as the hardest puncher he has faced in any of his first 33 professional fights. He won’t be able to accurately assess Matthysse’s power until after they fight Saturday night.
“I’d have to answer that question after Saturday night,” said Peterson, who’s 31-1-1 (16 KOs). “But as far as from what I feel and think, he’s a strong guy and he can punch. You have good punchers who don’t have good knockout ratios. I think the fact that he works hard and the fact that he gets a lot of knockouts, for the most part, the punching power … a lot of times you can get power from just working, just knowing how to break someone down. I think that’s more the case with Lucas than anything.”
Peterson’s opinion aside, Matthysse (33-2, 31 KOs) considers his power to be a big advantage over any opponent.
“Early on in my career I found out that I had a good punch,” Matthysse, 30, said. “I’ve obviously trained hard throughout my career to obtain that. … It gives me a lot of confidence and I’m very calm in the fights because I know what opponents are thinking about, in order to land one punch they might get caught with one of my punches. So obviously, it’s a great deal of confidence I have because of my punch.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.