Thomas Mattice’s upset of Michael Dutchover in his last fight was the most meaningful win of his career.
The Cleveland native is determined to put on an even more impressive performance in another “ShoBox” main event Friday night in Philadelphia. Mattice (15-1-1, 11 KOs) believes beating ranked contender Isaac Cruz (18-1-1, 14 KOs) in their 10-round fight will move him closer to a title eliminator in the 135-pound division and establish him as legitimate lightweight contender.
“I haven’t performed to my best yet on ‘ShoBox,’ ” Mattice told BoxingScene.com. “But I’m telling you, a hundred percent, this one will be it for sure. I’m better than that [how he fought against Dutchover]. It’ll show Friday.”
The 29-year-old Mattice got off to a slow start against the previously undefeated Dutchover on September 20 in Midland, Texas, Dutchover’s hometown. A determined Mattice imposed his will versus Dutchover in the middle rounds, however, and one of his punches opened a cut above Dutchover’s left eye in the eighth round.
Much to the dismay of his hometown fans, a ringside doctor determined that Dutchover (13-1, 10 KOs) shouldn’t continue due to that cut at 1:33 of the eighth round.
“It was beautiful to actually go there and win that fight,” Mattice said. “It was like I was fighting him and how many other people were in there. When I was walking out [to the ring], people were like, ‘Eff you, Mattice!’ I just smirked, kept my head down, got in the ring and had tunnel vision. The task was to win, so I didn’t let any of that get to me.”
That win enabled Mattice to bounce back from an eight-round, unanimous-decision defeat to Will Madera (14-0-3, 7 KOs) in his previous appearance on “ShoBox,” seven months earlier in Rochester, New York.
Mexico’s Cruz is 13-0-1 since suffering his only professional defeat, an eight-round unanimous decision to Luis Miguel Montano (then 8-5) four years ago in Mexico City. The 21-year-old Cruz’s success since that loss in February 2016 has moved Cruz into the number seven spot in the IBF’s lightweight rankings.
“He’s a durable fighter, a tough fighter,” said Mattice, who’s ranked 12th by the WBO. “He’s got a lot of heart. He’s coming to fight, for sure. He’s coming to fight. I’m coming to fight. It’s gonna be fireworks on Valentine’s Day, for sure.”
Mattice and Cruz will headline Showtime’s four-fight telecast of its “ShoBox: The New Generation” series from 2300 Arena.
In the co-feature, Las Vegas’ Ra’eese Aleem (15-0, 9 KOs) will face San Antonio’s Adam Lopez (19-3-2, 9 KOs) in an eight-round super bantamweight bout. The second of four televised fights will match Cleveland’s Montana Love (12-0-1, 6 KOs) against New Orleans’ Jerrico Walton (16-0, 7 KOs) in an eight-round junior welterweight bout.
In the televised opener, Detroit’s Derrick Colemon Jr. (11-0, 8 KOs) is set to battle Joseph Jackson (15-0, 12 KOs), of Greensboro, North Carolina, in an eight-round junior middleweight match.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.