Boxing: Morilla’s Report Card – Lucas Matthysse Stops Molina in a Classic Slugfest

005_Lucas_Matthysse_vs_John_Molina
Esther LinSHOWTIME

Our resident boxing writer Diego Morilla serves up a full weekend wrap-up of the most relevant boxing events in the worldwide scene. Every fight that matters is right here, in one place, and at one click away. Follow Morilla on Twitter at @MorillaBoxing

Carson, California, April 26

Keith Thurman TKO 4 Julio Diaz, WBA interim welterweight title

It was fun while it lasted. Unfortunately, it didn’t go very far, as WBA interim titlist Thurman (23-0, 21 KO) landed a few solid bombs to the body early on that caused Diaz (40-10-1, 29 KO) to remain seated on his stool at the end of the beginning of the fourth round claiming a rib injury. The showcase performance by Thurman was thus averted, as he was comfortably cruising to what seemed to be a comfortable win, even though Diaz made it look very competitive. Too bad the fight was cut short just when it was picking up the pace. Thurman is one of the most talented, heaviest-punching welterweights out there, and has the youth and physical frame to become a full-fledged middleweight someday.

The winner goes on to: With the powerful Al Haymon on his side, Thurman is definitely going places, but it remains to be seen whether he’ll be able to gain enough exposure to become one of Mayweather’s opponents before Floyd’s retirement.

Lucas Matthysse TKO 11 John Molina, junior welterweights

I had to rub my eyes clear for a minute. Am I watching Gatti-Ward IV here? For most of its duration, it did appear that former interim titleholder Matthysse (35-3, 33 KO) and super tough contender Molina (27-4, 22 KO) were giving us a throwback, all-out, toe-to-toe war much in the mold of those three classic wars between Micky and Arturo. Right out of the gate, Molina served notice of his power and his intentions when he dropped the iron-chinned Matthysse in the second round with a grazing right hand. They both sustained severe cuts in round three after a nasty clash of heads, and that was just the beginning of it all. What followed was a bloodbath in a phone booth, with both fighters slugging away while leaning on each other refusing to take a single step back. The fourth round was pure dynamite, with Matthysse dominating the action on volume and power alone, and Molina refusing to fold. Matthysse visited the canvas in round five thanks to what appeared to be a rabbit punch. That set the mood for the rest of the bout, with Matthysse (already looking for a KO to redeem himself after his loss to Danny Garcia in his previous fight) went on a search-and-destroy mode. Molina’s turn to hit the deck arrived in the eighth round, and Matthysse smelled blood in the water. Another visit to the canvas in round 10 was just the preamble of an 11th round that was pure and unrelenting punishment. After going down again thanks to a barrage of punches, Molina was spared from further suffering in a defeat that will surely earn him equal or more praise than a victory. Superb action all around, and a vibrant testimony of Matthysse’s uber-badassery.

The winner goes on to: An elimination fight between Thurman and Matthysse would do a lot to clear the picture in the Mayweather Sweepstakes, but I’d bet on a rematch against Danny Garcia first.

Omar Figueroa UD 12 Jerry Belmontes, WBC lightweight title

In hindsight, this was just like seeing a guy with a harmonica opening for Metallica. Figueroa (23-0-1, 17 KO) defended his 135 lb belt against Belmontes (19-4, 5 KO) with one of the most pedestrian, straight-up boring fights they were capable of producing. Sure, Figueroa may have been taking a rest from his terrific fight against Nihito Arakawa in July, but still. Scorecards were 116-112 and 118-110 for Figueroa, with the third one going to Belmontes for 115-113.

The winner goes on to: It’s hard to envision Figueroa gaining any kind of support for another high-profile bout after such a tepid performance.

Jermall Charlo TKO 4 Hector Muñoz, junior middleweights

A young contender keeps his unbeaten mark and makes his case for bigger challenges. Jermall Charlo (18-0, 14 KO) gave late-sub Muñoz (22-13-1, 14 KO) a sustained beating in this scheduled 10 rounder, until he was unable to withstand any more punishment. Charlo was clearly already psyched to fight a much better opponent as he had been scheduled to face IBF titlist Carlos Molina in March, in a fight that fell through because Molina was detained and is already in custody for several misdemeanors.

The winner goes on to: Charlo and his namesake brother Jermell are going places, and this fight showed some interesting progress in “the one with the A”. It will be interesting to see which one of them gets the title shot first.

Yamaguchi Falcao UD 4 Carlos Badaldua, middleweights

Frankie Gomez KO 2 Orlando Vasquez, welterweights

Joseph Diaz Jr. UD 6 Luis Maldonado, super bantamweights

Terrell Gausha UD 8 Charles Whittaker, 8 rounds, junior middleweights

The undercard featured a handful of dominant victories from a group of very talented former 2012 Olympians. Brazilian Olympian Falcao routed Najera with three identical scorecards of 40-36 to put his record at 1-0 and thus redeem his fiasco of a debut, which ended in a no-contest. The more experienced Diaz (10-0, 7 KO) cruised to an easy victory over former title challenger Maldonado (36-13-1, 27 KO) with scores of 60-54. And Gausha improved to 9-0 (5 KO) with a dominant eight-round domination of Whittaker (40-15-2, 24 KO), who visited the canvas in round six to widen the scores even more and leave them at 80-71 all the way around. The one non-Olympian in the group was the highly touted Gomez, a product of East L.A. and one of Golden Boy’s most promising fighters, who scored a KO in two rounds against Puerto Rico’s Vazquez (12-4-1, 6 KO) to improve to 17-0 (13 KO).

Oberhausen, Germany, April 26

Wladimir Klitschko KO 5 Alex Leapai, WBO/IBF/WBA heavyweight title

Let’s look at the bright side: these European promoters really know how to throw a pre-fight party. Rock groups, ethnic theatrical acts, kick-ass versions of national anthems, and much more. But then you have to put on a fight in the ring, and then you realize you should have spent some of that money on a more competitive opponent. There’s no other way to describe this utter mismatch between one of the most dominant heavyweight champs in recent memory and a completely unqualified challenger. Sure, Klitschko (62-3, 52 KO) looked truly awesome working behind a Holmes-esque jab and a solid straight right, and he would have destroyed almost every other challenger in the world with similar ease, but mandatory challenger Leapai (30-5-3, 24 KO) was completely outgunned from the very beginning. How bad was it? Klitschko outlanded Leapai about 150 to 10. Literally. That’s 150 punches against Leapai’s 10. It was only a matter of time, and the time came in round five when Leapai visited the canvas twice in slow motion after a couple of solid combinations to prompt the referee to save him from further punishment. Klitschko had his 16th title defense of an already legendary run, and we had a fight that lasted a little bit less than the pre-fight music and dance special. Which sounds bad, but considering the situation it was a pretty good deal.

The winner goes on to: Hopefully, Klitschko will have another fight before retiring. Ending such an illustrious career with such a terrible fight (and shown on basic cable, to boot) will not really help to solidify his legacy.

Oleksandr Usyk TKO 3 Ben Nsafoah, cruiserweights

Another talented Olympian enjoyed some well deserved exposure in the undercard, as 2012 Olympic gold medalist Usyk (3-0, 3 KO) stopped Nsafoah (15-10-2, 8 KO) with a terrific straight left hand from his southpaw stance midway through the third, after sending his foe to the canvas a few seconds earlier. The fight-ending punch was a beautiful thing to watch, along with Usyk’s half-pony tail, half-Mohican haircut. Nice scrap.

The winner goes on to: The game is wide open in the cruiserweight division, but Usyk is way too green to predict any kind of success in the near future.

Puerto Peñasco, Mexico, April 26

Juan Francisco Estrada TKO 10 Richie Mepranum, WBA/WBO flyweight title

Terrific bout between two road warriors. Estrada (26-2, 19 KO) was fighting in front of his home crowd and defending two thirds of the flyweight crown against a very experienced southpaw and former title challenger Mepranum (28-4, 12 KO), of the Philippines. A terrific, accurate puncher working behind a solid defense, Estrada simply dominated Mepranum from the mid-range, connecting solidly and often enough to build a huge lead. In the end, Mepranum got the message, and after a brutal 10th round he decided to stay in his corner and accept defeat.

The winner goes on to: The flyweight division is becoming more and more interesting thanks in part to people like Estrada. Let’s hope he keeps it interesting with more dominant wins such as this one.

Hernan “Tyson” Marquez UD 10 John Mark Apolinario, junior bantamweights

A former world champion once considered to be the next big thing in Mexican boxing, Marquez (37-4, 26 KO) seems to have lost a step or two lately, but he still remains a formidable foe, as Apolinario (18-4, 4 KO) found out. Lacking some of his usual steam, Marquez was nevertheless too much for his Filipino foe to handle, winning easily by scores of 100-90, 97-93, and 98-92.

The winner goes on to: It’s good to see Marquez back on the right track after a few heart-breaking setbacks in the last two years. His division could use his spectacular power and his solid fan base.

Sheffield, England, April 26

Lucas Browne KO 5 Eric Martel Bahoeli, Commonwealth heavyweight title

Browne (20-0, 18 KO), a towering, heavily tattooed, unbeaten Aussie with an entertaining style, could have bought himself a ticket for the post-Klitschko sweepstakes with this solid win over Canada’s Bahoeli (10-4, 7 KO). Browne looked slow but very much in command of the action, dropping his foe in round three, four, and five, setting the pace of the fight in spite of a massive gash over one of his eyes. His wrecking ball of a right hand could give huge problems to anyone in the division in the near future. It would be great to see him step up to bigger challenges in the near future.

The winner goes on to: With boxing in Australia lacking a solid major figure, Browne could be filling that spot very soon.

Zhanat Zhakiyanov KO 5 Karim Guerfi, European bantamweight title

It only took one punch, but… what a punch it was! Russia’s Zhakiyanov (22-1, 15 KO) demolished France’s Guerfi (20-3, 5 KO) with a devastating right hand that seemed to take the life out of the then-champion. Truly, Zhakiyanov had been pummeling Guerfi into submission during the entire fight, but the final blow was something to behold. Instant candidate for KO of the year.

The winner goes on to: If he can market the video of this fight the right way, a lot of people will be looking forward to see him fight again.

Milan, Italy, April 26

Valery Yanchy UD 12 Andrea Sarritzu, vacant European flyweight title

It looks like it’s all over for Sardinia’s beloved fighter and former title challenger Sarritzu, (34-7-5, 13 KOs), a local hero who nevertheless failed to fulfill his potential every time he tried to step up his level of competition. This time, he was fighting Yanchy (23-3-2, 7 KOs) in a rematch of a draw that took place in October of last year. But instead of digging deep and erasing that stain from his record, Sarritzu simply resorted to his old tricks (grabbing, pushing, and others) and hoped for the referee to be intimidated by his partisan local crowd. In the end, he suffered what would look like a career-ending defeat at the hands of a talented but limited Belarus-born, Spain resident Yanchy.

The winner goes on to: With the flyweight division brimming with talent, it’s hard to envision Yanchy working his way towards a major challenge in America, but everything’s possible.

Legionowo, Poland, April 26

Marcin Rekowski UD 10 Oliver McCall, heavyweights

The Klitschko-Leapai fiasco was hard to top, but this is the heavyweight division, where nobody ever turns down a chance to make a quick buck. That’s the case of former heavyweight champion McCall (57-14, 37 KO), a 49-year-old former sparring partner of Mike Tyson who famously KO’d Lennox Lewis in his moment of glory but who had very little else to show for an uneven career. At least, this time the “Atomic Bull” was giving Rekowski (14-1, 11 KO) a rematch after upsetting him with a close 8-round decision back in February. This time, the 36-year-old Rekowski got it right, staying busy and scoring often enough to earn a 96-94, 99-92, 99-91 points win. Still, one has to wonder what has been proved by Rekowski with a victory such as this.

The winner goes on to: On the strength of this victory? He won’t be going far. On the strength of his own talent? Well… let’s make it a hard “no” all around.

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