HBO results: Lucas Matthysse KOs Tewa Kiram; Jorge Linares handles Mercito Gesta
Lucas Matthysse saved an otherwise dreadful fight from going on any longer, in the eighth round, in which, at the 1:21 mark, he knocked out Tewa Kiram after already sending to the mat moments earlier. The welterweight contest was the main event of an HBO “Boxing After Dark” telecast from the Forum in Inglewood, California.
You can’t really talk about the knockout punch without first explaining the one-two from Matthysse that suddenly dropped Kiram in the eighth. The reaction of the 6,143 in attendance was harmonious with Kiram’s body crashing to the canvas and it was a bit of a shockwave, considering they only had plenty to boo about beforehand. Once Kiram got up, Matthysse aggressively went to work and eventually backed Kiram to the ropes, where a power left jab of his hurt the Thai fighter again and he suddenly fell again after throwing a right of his own.
Fighting for the first time in the United States, Kiram, 38-1 (28), was fine through the preceding seven rounds. His length was punctuated by a pesky jab that did more bothering than hurting. Rarely did he fire power shots at Matthysse but his boxing was keeping the Argentinean at bay, for much of the contest, which warranted the dissatisfaction, as the man with a well-known thirst for action wasn’t looking like “The Machine.” Kiram may have moved sufficiently and had some sort of game plan for Matthysse but he wasn’t offering much of a threat himself.
Whether or not Matthysse, 39-4 (36), is a threat to any of the top men in the welterweight division is a serious question for those who won’t forget the first seven rounds of his fight with Kiram. However for those who did, they’ll remain prisoners of the moment, if they think that is the case going forward.
“I’m really happy. (Kiram) moved really well and he was really big,” Matthysse said afterward. “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 (Matthysse’s manager) Mario Arano and Golden Boy Promotions.”
In the opening bout of the HBO telecast, Jorge Linares defended his WBA lightweight title for the third time after earning a unanimous decision (118-110 twice, 117-111) over Mercito Gesta.
“I didn’t really feel (Gesta’s) power, though I hurt my hand in the fourth or fifth round. I threw my right hand without really putting too much power into it. I wasn’t touching him. There wasn’t a knockout because he was well-prepared,” Linares said about the fight.
Gesta, 31-2-2 (17), had his best moments in the first six minutes of the fight, with moments of aggression inspired by angling hooks. It all started to subside, once Linares snipered power right hands up the middle and off the jab, one of which put a smile on Gesta’s face in the third, indicating it was indeed a beautiful shot. From then on, Linares moved more and and soon began to implement some uppercuts to the body and head that dominated much of the middle rounds.
“I fought against a world champion and that was a great privilege,” said Gesta. “He adjusted well to my style after the first couple of rounds. Overall I am proud of myself for taking this tough fight and I know me and coach Freddie Roach came in with the best game plan. We just fell a little short.”
Linares, 44-3 (27), got nicked near the right eye in the eighth, after one of Gesta’s seldom clean shots in an exchange. Never did he panic, once Gesta tried to become more aggressive and a step to the left or right would get himself out of harm’s way, while sneaking in a final shot of his own. Gesta would often shrug or smile when Linares would land a solid shot on the head. Perhaps it was an indication that he could take a good shot but, in this fight, the more he reacted in this way was an admission that he was getting beaten.
“Like I said to (Golden Boy Promotions founder) Oscar De La Hoya, I don’t want to mention names for my next opponent. You know what’s nice?,” Linares pondered. “That people mention my name. That’s fine that they mention my name but let’s get them in the ring. Let them get in the ring with me.”
Argentine veteran Marcelino Lopez, 34-2-1 (19), knocked out Breidis Prescott, 30-12 (22), in the fifth, after sending the Colombian down to the canvas twice in the fateful round with right hands.
“Boxing is a beautiful sport that is so exhilarating – but to get a knockout is the best part and what we train for,” said Lopez after the tremendous finish. “It takes sacrifice to leave your home country and be able to focus and get a win like this is so satisfying. I want to thank Joel Diaz, who has taken me in like his family and has helped me improve and refine my style.”
Filipino lightweight hopeful Romero Duno,16-1 (14), wiped out Yardley Armenta, 22-10 (12), with body shots to score a knockout at the 1:01 mark of round one. Duno was aggresive from the opening bell and, after finding nowhere to hide, Armenta fell to a knee and stayed there until the count from referee Jerry Cantu struck ten.
“I wasn’t expecting to knock him out in the first round,” said Duno, who is from General Santos City. “I can’t even remember if I actually hurt him. My coach told me to go in there and use my jab and to keep calm but I just got really excited and, the next thing I knew, I won.”
Ferdinand Kerobyan, 8-0 (4), survived a last-round scare to eventually earn a unanimous decision victory over Lucius Johnson, 4-2-1 (3). A 20-year-old Armenian junior middleweight prospect, Kerobyan was in control of most for most of the six rounds, knocking Johnson’s mouthpiece out a total of three times, but the Compton, California native showed tremendous grit to survive Kerobyan’s power and land a right hand that had him reeling for the final two minutes of the fight.
“The energy was incredible tonight! I was glad to have the support of the fans and my Armenian community,” said Kerobyan. “I’m just ready to start stepping up the level of competition I am facing and I want to be able to start fighting for some regional titles soon.”
In an evenly-matched featherweight bout between undefeateds, Francisco Esparza, 7-0-1 (3), beat Tenochtitlan Nava, 7-1 (1), via stoppage in the sixth round.
“We were expecting a knockout by the eighth round, so we were glad that it happened earlier,” said Esparza. “I’m trained by former world champion Fernando Vargas, who is an important mentor and helped me execute a game plan, where we broke down Nava. Hopefully I’ll be fighting in my hometown of Las Vegas in May.”
Daquan Pauldo fought Osbaldo Gonzalez, 6-2 (4), to a unanimous decision (58-56 twice, 59-55) win after six rounds of middleweight action, in his first win after changing his surname from Arnett, in honor of the man who raised him.
“I thought the judges were going to stop the fight after the third round because his nose was torn up,” said Pauldo, 17-1 (9), who fights out of Orlando, Florida. “I would give myself a 5.5 for my performance – it’s been two-and-a-half years since I’ve been able to be consistent in the ring and I think both me and my promoter would agree that what I need is to be more consistent with my training. I needed to move a lot more inside the ring and be more active inside.”
In the opening bout of the Golden Boy Promotions card, featherweight prospect Javier Martinez, 5-0 (3), earned a unanimous decision win (58-55 twice, 59-55) over Danny Flores, 15-12-1 (8), once getting off the canvas in the opening round, and taking part in an all-out action fight for the remainder of the six-round affair.
“I am not proud of my performance,” Martinez, a native of Dallas, Texas, admitted afterward. “It was really hard to adjust and get into the rhythm of things. This sport is all about taking steps forward and I just have to take from all my mistakes and improve, from this point.”