By Francisco Salazar
INGLEWOOD - Leading up to Saturday's fight, Lucas Matthysse vowed that boxing fans would again see 'The Machine.'
It took seven-plus rounds for that to happen. 'The Machine' also won a vacant world title belt.
Matthysse (39-4, 36 knockouts) ended a boring, and at times sloppy, fight in round eight, dropping Tewa Kiram twice to win by knockout before an announced and partisan crowd of 6,143 at The Forum.
It was not the fight that many in boxing had predicted or would occur between two fighters who normally come forward. Instead, it was a fight that largely drew cascades of boos, largely because the action, or lack there, did not match what many in the boxing industry predicted.
If Kiram (38-1, 28 KOs) had a game plan, it was something that Matthysse did not expect. And that might have included what Viktor Postol did back in October of 2015, when Matthysse suffered his most recent defeat.
Kiram, who looked bigger than Matthysse, chose to box and keep Matthysse at a distance. The tactic worked as he was able to outbox Matthysse, who looked frustrated with each passing round.
After the fifth round, a small jar was confiscated from Kiram's corners by inspectors of the California State Athletic Commission, a jar which Kiram apparently was taking deep breaths from.
As the fight progressed, Matthysse began closing the distance and connecting more to the head of Kiram. Whether it was Matthysse's aggression or fatigue, Kiram's punch output dropped.
Seconds into the eighth round, Matthysse dropped Kiram with a left-right combination to the head. Kiram beat the count and fought back. Matthysse had Kiram against the ropes when he landed a hard left jab that dropped Kiram for good. Referee Raul Caiz, Sr. stopped the bout at 1:21.
Kiram remained on the canvas for several moments before finally sitting on a stool.
Matthysse won the vacant WBA title, but Keith Thurman is the 'Super' WBA titleholder, as he holds the WBC and WBA titles.
Entering the eighth round, Matthysse was up on two scorecards (69-64 and 68-65), while Kiram was up 68-65 on the third scorecard.
According to CompuBox numbers, the fight was played on even terms with punches landed. Matthysse connected with 59 of 246 total punches (24 percent), while Kiram landed 55 of 277 total punches (19.9 punches).
Matthysse did have a significant advantage in connecting with power punches (39 to 15).
With Joel Diaz in his corner, Matthysse does have options going forward, but Saturday's performance may have shown some vulnerabilities. Have all those wars with the likes with Ruslan Provodnikov, Danny Garcia, and John Molina.
Matthysse does not think so.
"I couldn't catch (Kiram)," said Matthysse, who is originally from Argentina. "He moved a lot. I'm really happy. He moved really well, and he was really big. That's why it was hard to cut the distance. I didn't feel his power, so that's why I was able to find him later and stop him."
"I'm here for the best and biggest names. I want the rematch with Danny Garcia or Manny Pacquiao. Those are the big fights I want, though of course, that will be up to Mario Arana and Golden Boy Promotions."