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“The Machine” Begins His March

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While it may not draw 40,000 fans and have a worldwide audience or a million pay-per-view buys (or less, depending on who you ask), this weekend, Showtime (9 p.m., ET/PT) just might have the best pure fight on its schedule when a junior welterweight (plus one pound) showdown takes place at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City between Lucas Matthysse and Lamont Peterson.
 
For the hard-hitting Argentinean, this could begin the march that cements his claim as the world’s best 140-pounder.
 
“This is one of the big ones,” he said to Maxboxing through Golden Boy Promotions publicist Ramiro Gonzalez, while still in his native country. “This is one of the best. Lamont Peterson is a good fighter and, yes, this is one of the ones I was expecting.”
 
The winner of this fight is expected to face WBC beltholder Danny Garcia, on September 7th. And to perhaps to help make that a reality, it was announced last week that Matthysse had signed on with influential adviser Al Haymon (who just happens to also represent Garcia, among many others). Say whatever you will about Haymon; the man gets things done. Ask Austin Trout, who at this point last year, was an anonymous figure to the general public. Now, he’s coming off back-to-back bouts with Miguel Cotto and Saul Alvarez.

Matthysse is a guy who quite frankly brings a bit too much risk for not all that much reward. He needs a guy like Haymon. They both speak softly and both carry big sticks in their own ways.
 
“That’s what I’m expecting; that’s what I’ve been waiting for. We signed with him because we expect to get the best fights. I have a great team but adding Al Haymon is going to be great for my career,” he states.
 
But first things first. He has a tall hurdle to overcome in Peterson, who returned to the ring in February by impressively dispatching Kendall Holt in eight. Like Matthysse, Peterson isn’t afraid of a fight and banging to the body. He rates several notches higher than Mike Dallas, who “The Machine” steamrolled in one back in January in his 2013 debut. “I consider him one of the best fighters at 140. He’s a good fighter. He has power. He has speed. But I’m very well-prepared always, so I’m expecting to win. I don’t come to the United States to lose. I’m coming to win,” said Matthysse, who has a record of 33-2 with 31 knockouts and could make an argument that he is actually undefeated. Many pundits and fans believe he did more than enough to get his hands raised versus Zab Judah and Devon Alexander.
 
Once again, he finds himself facing a well-known American fighter on U.S. soil.
 
Matthysse states, “I’m not going to leave anything to the judges. I’m going to come with everything. I’m going to do my job and I’m very confident the referee is going to raise my hand.”
 
While not officially a unification tilt, a win over Peterson would be considered a victory over another blue-chip beltholder in the division. The goal in 2013 is to consolidate one of the deepest weight classes in all of boxing.
 
“I’m going to stay there till my body asks me to stay up,” he says. “Right now, I plan on cleaning up the division.”
 
And whoever should come out of this division as the ruler immediately throws himself into the mix to face Floyd Mayweather down the line.
 
“I think it’s a natural conversation, whoever emerges from that scrum: Garcia, Peterson, Matthysse, [Marcos] Maidana or anybody. That is a natural,” said Stephen Espinoza, head of Showtime Sports, “because if you’re the guy who emerged from that pool of killer talent, then you’re a guy to be taken seriously against Mayweather.”
 
But we should just all sit back and enjoy what takes place this weekend. There’s no need for the hard sell here. This is a premiere match-up in every way: two world-class practitioners with fan-friendly styles and a lot at stake.
 
Can you think of a better fight that’s on the board?
 
“I can’t think of one,” said Espinoza, who admittedly might be a tad biased. “It’s one of those where I don’t think you’ll need a referee. The guys are going to meet at the center of the ring and sit there and hit each other as hard as they can. So that’s one where it’s as close as you can get to a guaranteed barnburner.”
 
Matthysse is expecting battle in the trenches.
 
“We don’t watch that many videos of other fighters but I saw [Peterson]’s last fight and I see that he’s very solid. He doesn’t move much. He’s right there,” he points out. “That’s what I’m expecting, for him to be right there with me, not running.”
 
TICKETS
 
It seems that while Garcia vs. Matthysse is a fight very much anticipated by the hardcore boxing fan, it’s struggling at the box-office where a lot of tickets are still available for this Saturday night (http://www.ticketmaster.com/event/02004A79E898AE9C).
 
It goes to show that regardless of how good a certain fight may be, geography is still very important. Matthysse simply isn’t going to draw in America. His countryman, Sergio Martinez, had problems as the A-side - even as the Undisputed Middleweight Champion - before finally playing to a full house against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. last September.
 
If this event was in Washington D.C. - where Peterson has proven to be a consistent draw - you could safely assume you’d have a crowd of between 10-to-15,000. But there was absolutely no way given Matthysse’s tough luck in the past (and the controversies that always seem to accompany the D.C. commission) that this event was going to land in our nation’s capital.
 
But this should go down as lesson for all of boxing. When commissions are run haphazardly, the risk of losing events in their jurisdictions becomes more prevalent and the whole business of boxing suffers.
 
PARIAH
 
For much of his bout against Ricky Burns, it looked like Puerto Rican Jose A. Gonzalez would be returning back to the island of Puerto Rico as not only the newly-minted WBO lightweight champion but a conquering hero. Then almost inexplicably (and much to the chagrin of his cornermen and promoter, Peter Rivera), Gonzalez called it quits after the ninth inning, citing a broken right hand. It turned out he was ahead 87-84 on all three scorecards at the time.
 
He was so close yet so far.
 
But I’m not here to pile on Gonzalez. Yeah, I realize the part of the fighter’s oath in taking up this sport is to fight through a reasonable amount of hardship. Certainly others have soldiered on through much worse (Tyrell Biggs comes to mind, immediately). The harsh reality is that whatever pain he may have felt in his right hand on Saturday in Glasgow, Scotland, will most likely pale in comparison to the type of derision he will feel back home. This is a stigma Gonzalez may never shake off.
 
Puerto Rico is a region that still cares very much about boxing and its boxers. When a big prizefight takes place out there, it’s front page news. Puerto Ricans are passionate about the “Sweet Science.” It’s a part of their national identity and their fighters just don’t fight for themselves; they fight for their whole country.
 
And Gonzalez may have just shamed them all.
 
Right now, Puerto Rico is at a low ebb in terms of boxing. The twilight of Miguel Cotto’s career is upon them and it’ll be a few years before the full development of Felix Verdejo. In between them is one major beltholder, Rocky Martinez, the WBO 130-pound titlist. And Cotto, the fighter, is much better than Cotto, the promoter. His company’s roster, save for perhaps Braulio Santos, is filled with JAGs and Team Indian Casino…er…Team Puerto Rico isn’t much better.
 
Gonzalez could’ve helped fill this vacuum existing on the island and created a nice, lucrative niche for himself. Instead, he may now be a fistic pariah there.
 
FINAL FLURRIES
 
Vic Darchinyan got stunned once or twice by the game Javier Gallo but he was able to stop him in four. the “Raging Bull” has always been in pretty entertaining scraps...Oscar Valdez, who scored a first round TKO on that same card in Laredo, TX, looks to return on June 15th in Dallas on the Mikey Garcia-Juan Manuel Lopez card...Lightweight Baha “Fresh” Mamadjinov has signed a promotional deal with Don King...The June 7th edition of ESPN2’s “Friday Night Fights” will feature a interesting match-up between Johnny Molina and Andrey Klimov...The Pacers-Knicks series reminds me of playoff basketball from the ‘90s after Michael Jordan’s first retirement - and that’s not a good thing...Loving the clash of styles and adjustments between the Spurs and Warriors…R.I.P. to Johnny Bos. A real boxing guy if there ever was one...I can be reached at k9kim@yahoo.com and I tweet at www.twitter.com/stevemaxboxing. We also have a Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/MaxBoxing, where you can discuss our content with Maxboxing readers as well as chime in via our fully interactive article comments sections.


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