Will Lucas Matthysse be fit to be Thai’d?
Tonight from the Forum, in Inglewood, California, Lucas Matthysse faces Tewa Kiram for the vacant WBA “regular” welterweight title (HBO, 10:30 p.m. ET). The Argentine, who has had a colorful and distinguished career, is aiming to win his first legitimate world title.
But the question is, at age 35, just how much is left in the gas tank of “The Machine”?
Matthysse has had a fan-friendly style (the kind that doesn’t necessarily age well) and has battled Ruslan Provodnikov, John Molina Jr., Danny Garcia, Lamont Peterson, Humberto Soto, Zab Judah, Devon Alexander and Viktor Postol. There are definitely plenty of miles on his odometer.
At a recent media day, held at the Indio Boys and Girls Club, to promote this card, Matthysse told UCNLive.com (through Golden Boy Promotions publicist Gabe Rivas), “I feel great. Everyday I go to work and I feel well. Every morning I wake up and feel well. So I’m happy.”
For Matthysse, this is his second training camp under the tutelage of trainer Joel Diaz. During their initial foray together, Matthysse looked impressive in scoring a fifth round stoppage of the normally durable Emmanuel Taylor. “We’re doing a great job with Antonio Diaz, with Joel Diaz, with the entire team. I think we’re actually making for a very good team,” he said.
Diaz says his belief is that Matthysse has about three or four fights at the top level and says, at this advanced age, he has made adjustments in how hard he pushes the veteran during camp. The question is just how effective is Matthysse as a welterweight?
”Well, he took a couple of steps back on that (Viktor) Postol fight,” admitted Diaz, of Matthysse’s 10th round knockout loss, in which he suffered a broken eye socket. “Now he needs to prove to himself, after that Emmanuel Taylor fight, to step it up again, get a big fight and obviously it depends on the outcome and that’s where you know where he stands. But right now, he’s a couple of steps behind in order for him to be at the top level.”
Kiram, 38-0 (28), certainly looks the part. In fact, he was noticeably bigger than Matthysse, as they weighed in on Friday. This is an extra large Thai.
Diaz said of their foe, “I don’t take anybody lightly. This guy is tough. I’ve been watching some of his videos. He’s strong. He uses his height and reach to his advantage and we’ve been getting ready. We have a great plan of attack for this guy and hopefully everything goes well. I just want to have a Lucas Matthysse 100 percent physically and mentally ready. At this point, he has proven to me he is ready.”
“We’ve seen some tape. We know he’s big and he knows how to work from a distance but we’ve had a great camp, so I know we’re prepared going into this fight,” said Matthysse.
As Roman Gonzalez discovered last year, facing boxers from Thailand isn’t for the half-hearted. And it has to be asked, does he still have the same passion for the sport?
To this he states, “Obviously or I wouldn’t be here. I spent the Christmas and the holidays with my team here and I feel great. Again if I didn’t enjoy it and have fun at this – I wouldn’t be here.”
Showtime announced earlier this week that Stephen Espinoza had been promoted to President of Sports and Event Programming. When asked if his role will change appreciably, he stated on Thursday, “No, it’s one of the ironies. It’s good to get the recognition and to feel that you’re advancing but we’re a relatively small shop and, at this point, I’m not doing anything different than I was two days ago.”
But this job doesn’t allow for a lot of breathing room. As these bouts take place, the process begins to fill out the schedule for the third quarter and beyond of 2018, based on ongoing results
Espinoza explained, “The welterweights, that’s an easy one to look at. You have (IBF titlist Errol) Spence (Jr.) kicking off the year (on January 20). You have (Danny) Garcia; you got (WBA/WBC beltholder Keith) Thurman coming back. (Shawn) Porter’s going to fit in somewhere. Then you fit all those pieces together and wait and see what the results are and try to figure out how and when you get to the best combinations after that.
“Knowing that, in the back of everyone’s mind, the quicker that we get to Thurman-Spence, the happier everyone’s going to be. It’s the same thing across the board.”
There is also the heavyweight landscape.
“If we get (IBF/WBA beltholder Anthony) Joshua-(WBO titlist Joseph) Parker on the schedule – which we expect to – then it again starts to begin the discussion. We’re beginning March and ending March with big heavyweight title fights,” Espinoza says. “Between those two events, you have all four heavyweight titles in play. You got the four consensus top-ranked heavyweights in the world.
“It’s a great way to jump start the conversation and have people focused even more on unification fights.”
Here’s this week’s edition of “The Next Round,” with Gabe Montoya and Yours Truly.
Mario Lopez and I preview tonight’s HBO card and we have “Final Flurries” on “The 3 Knockdown Rule.”
Yes, “10 Count” is back on UCNLive and Doug Fischer of THE RING Magazine, Michael Montero of “Montero on Boxing” and Yours Truly did a few segments to kick off 2018.
So is the World Boxing Super Series at least streamed (legally) anywhere for America boxing fans?…Tickets for tonight’s card are avaiable for $10, $25, $50 and $100…The live stream for this undercard on RingTV.com begins at 6:05 p.m. ET/3:05 p.m. PT…On March 9, at the OC Hangar, Ronny Rios will face Azat “Crazy A” Hovhannisyan as the headliner on the “Golden Boy Boxing on ESPN” series…Yeah, Michigan State should be ashamed of itself…I don’t care what anyone says; Christopher Cross made quality music that I enjoy…I can be reached at email@example.com and I tweet (a lot) at twitter.com/steveucnlive. I also share photos of stuff at instagram.com/steveucnlive and can also be found at tsu.co/steveucnlive.