By Francisco Salazar
Tonight’s bout between Lucas Matthysse and Tewa Kiram could go in many directions.
Sure, Lucas Matthysse is the significant favorite over Kiram when they finally square off in a 12 round bout at The Forum in Inglewood, California. The Matthysse-Kiram fight, along with the Jorge Linares-Mercito Gesta lightweight clash will air live on HBO (10:30 p.m. ET/ 7:30 p.m. PT).
The fight is compelling because just over two years ago Matthysse was expected to defeat Viktor Postol for a junior welterweight title. Not only did Postol outbox Matthysse in the later rounds, he stopped the hard-hitting Argentine.
Kiram (38-0, 28 knockouts) is nowhere near as polished as Postol, but he is unknown and a puncher. His most notable victories were by unanimous decision over Kaizer Mabuza in April of 2015 and a fourth round knockout over Vladimir Baez in July of 2016.
Those are decent fighters, but two fights ago (on Feb. 17), Kiram knocked out a fighter who was making his pro debut. Vijender Kumar must be something else if it took Kiram until the ninth round to stop him.
Or Kiram, who is from Thailand, might channel his inner-Srisaket Sor Rungvisai and surprise many boxing skeptics.
“I’m very thankful that I’m fighting for a world title this Saturday against Lucas Matthysse,” said Kiram at Thursday’s final press conference. I’m looking forward to winning a world (title) and taking the belt back to Thailand.”
Matthysse (38-4, 35 KOs) did stop Emmanuel Taylor on May 6 in Las Vegas, but he is 35 years of age and has been involved in many wars. Does he have more than enough in the tank, including his boxing skill-set, to break down Kiram, even though he has been in numerous wars with the likes of Ruslan Provodnikov, Danny Garcia, and John Molina?
Or we could see a toe-to-toe battle, for however long that might last, between Matthysse and Kiram. That might happen as both are punches and like to move forward, but Matthysse might be the more polished fighter, thanks to trainer Joel Diaz.
Wouldn’t it be something if the first major fight card of 2018 in the United States brings a ‘Fight of the Year’ candidate? That is a real possibility, for however long that fight lasts.
For Matthysse, a win tonight will mark the first time he will win a world title belt. Matthysse won an interim world title belt at 140 pounds a years ago and he failed to win the vacant WBC title in his bout against Postol.
That is hard to digest that it took until tonight, should Matthysse be victorious, for him to win a world title belt. That is boxing for you. As Larry Merchant used to say, “Boxing is the theatre of the unexpected.”
It has been a long road for Matthysse over the last several years, but a win for ‘The Machine’ tonight will not only give him a world title belt, but also solidify his standing as an attraction for fight fans.
“I’m excited (for) this opportunity to fight for a world title,” said Matthysse. “We prepared for this fight really well. We prepared in Argentina, and then finished in Indio. This Saturday, we will walk away with a world title.”
“We learned a few things, but I assure the fans that they will once again see ‘The Machine’ this Saturday.”
Francisco A. Salazar has written for Boxingscene.com since September of 2012 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (Calif.) Star newspaper, RingTV.com, and FightNights.com. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing