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Boxing: Morilla’s Sunday Report Card – Matthysse Defeats Provodnikov and Much More

Diego Morilla

Diego Morilla is a boxing writer since 1992. His work has been extensively featured in some of the most prestigious boxing media outlets in Latin America and the U.S., including ESPN.com, The Ring, Latino Boxing, MaxBoxing.com, Lo Mejor del Boxeo, PSN.com, HBO Sports and newspapers such as El Mundo, Primera Hora and El Vocero, among others.

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

Verona, N.Y., April 18

Lucas Matthysse MD 12 Ruslan Provodonikov, junior welterweights

A war they expected, and a war they got. The expectations for this fight were huge, and the protagonists delivered with a dramatic fight to the finish in which neither one gave up an inch of their territory. Matthysse (37-3, 34 KO) had a terrific start, landing at will with both hands and opening a deep cut in his opponent’s left eyelid that never stopped bleeding during the fight. But Provodnikov (24-4, 17 KO) surged in the late rounds and never stopped believing in himself even when he was being clearly outgunned. The “Siberian Rocky” even managed to rock “The Machine” with a few solid combinations in the eleventh round, but it was too little too late. Matthysse resorted to working the body in the late rounds due to a minor injury in his right hand, a byproduct of his furious output in the early going. The tenth round was a toss-up, but the rest of the rounds were easy to score: Matthysse took rounds one through eight (with the exception of the fourth) and Provodnikov took the home stretch with one of the gutsiest performances ever seen on a boxing ring. The 114-114 scorecard by one of the judges was a bit of a stretch, but the two remaining cards were spot-on at 115-113 apiece. If there weren’t so many options for both fighters to tackle out there, the talk of a rematch would be immediate, but with this performance they both became two of the biggest attractions in an elite division, and gave every other contender in the 140 lb region more than one reason to fear them. An early (and strong) candidate for Fight of the Year, without a doubt.

The winner goes on to: Matthysse is now Golden Boy’s golden goose in the talent-rich 140-ish territory, and the company will try to pimp him into a fight with the winner of that little May 2nd bout in Vegas. Not a bad proposition, especially if Pacquiao wins.

Patrick Teixeira KO 2 Patrick Allotey, middleweights

The “Battle of the Patricks” had the unenviable task of living up to the expectations of a terrific main event, and it didn’t disappoint. Fighting brilliantly and throwing dozens of punches from his southpaw stance, Brazil’s Teixeira (25-0, 20 KO) scored repeatedly and easily against an uninspired Allotey (30-2, 24 KO) during the first round. But Teixeira appeared to be in a hurry to finish things quickly, and he proceeded to unleash a furious onslaught very early in the second round, and continued his sustained attack until Allotey went down near his own corner and failed to beat the count to award Teixeira the early and relatively easy victory. Hopefully we’ll see more of Teixeira in his next outing, and his newly started relationship with Golden Boy Promotions promises to showcase his talents prominently in the near future.

Arlington, Texas, April 18

Terence Crawford TKO 6 Thomas Dulorme, vacant WBO junior welterweight title

Terrific demonstration of progress by one of boxing’s newest superstars. After being named Fighter of the Year in 2014, former lightweight champ “Bud” Crawford (26-0, 18 KO) scored what amounted to a one-round demolition of Dulorme (22-1, 12 KO) after losing four of the first five rounds (if not all of them), virtually surrendering the initiative to a Dulorme that appeared focused and determined to score from a distance and fighting superbly out of a crouching position. Dulorme scored repeatedly with his jab to the body and with solid combinations throughout the early going to grab an early lead in the first two rounds. Crawford found his way back into the fight in the fourth round thanks to an explosive finish, but by the end of the fifth round he was giving the impression of not being completely focused as Dulorme took control of the center of the ring and fired combinations at will, landing at a decent rate. But as soon as the sixth round started, Crawford landed a one-two combination that found Dulorme defenseless and leaning solidly on his back feet. The combination sent the Puerto Rican fighter reeling towards the ropes for the first knockdown at the 0:20 mark for an 8-count. Crawford followed up with another combination that sent Dulorme down for a second time at the 55 second mark, and then waited patiently for his chance to unload a barrage of punches on a defenseless Dulorme, who succumbed to the canvas for a third time. Referee Rafael Ramos stopped the bout even though the 3-knockdown rule was in effect to award the victory to Crawford by technical knockout at the 1:51 mark. Fabulous victory for a fighter who has shown virtually unlimited potential and who continues to impress in each outing.

The winner goes on to: It won’t be hard to find a decent challenge for Crawford in the talent-rich 140 lb division, but don’t count on him being the winner of the grueling main event in this split-site HBO card.

Carson, Calif., April 18

Andrzej Fonfara KO 9 Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., light heavyweights

Was this an upset or an overdue exposition of an overrated fighter? Poland’s Fonfara (27-3, 16 KO) was considered a stiff challenge and the first true light heavyweight that former middleweight titlist Chavez Jr (48-2-1, 32 KO) was facing, but very few dared to predict such a brutal shellacking. Chavez, son of the legendary homonymous Mexican icon, was making a comeback after being sidelined for more than a year, and had not looked good in ages. Still, Al Haymon’s promotional company decided it would be great to invest in him based on his huge popularity. The return of that investment will now have to wait, apparently. Chavez had all sorts of problems, looking sluggish and lacking power, his main asset as a fighter. Chavez tried to ram into Fonfara’s defense head-first and then try to land his vaunted left hook, but instead he became an easy target for all sorts of combinations from the taller and stronger Polish fighter. Finally, and after losing about seven of the first eight rounds, Chavez succumbed in a corner after catching a left hook right on his temple. He did beat the count, but Fonfara finished with a flurry that sent Chavez to the corner on wobbly legs, where his trainer Joe Goossen decided to keep him on the stool for good and thus award the victory to Fonfara.

The winner goes on to: It’s not going to be easy for the tough but limited Fonfara to make it big in the loaded 175 lb division, but he’ll surely give most of the top 10 guys a run for their money, and then some.

The loser goes on to: There you go, Mr. Haymon. You wanted him? You got him. Let’s see now if the PBC boxing marketing machinery can make lemonade out of the sour lemons served by Chavez in his first outing with the company, and recover fully to become a true marketable fighter again. Whatever you do, Junior, please lose the dark socks on white sneakers. Seriously.

Moises Flores SD 12 Oscar Escandon, WBA interim junior featherweight title

Not a bad scrap at all, even in the shadows of a terrific weekend of action. Colombia’s Escandon (24-2, 16 KO) started out with a bang, outpunching Mexico’s Flores (23-0, 16 KO) from a safe distance and boxing superbly, but Flores decided to try to impose his superior punching power midway through the fight, and he achieved just that. In the end, Flores was patient enough to wait for Escandon’s mistakes and took over

boxing
Photo Credit: Esther Lin/SHOWTIME

the action towards the end, punctuated by a solid eleventh round that may have turned the tide in his favor. Two scorecards favored Flores by 116-112 and a third one was 115-113 for Escandon.

Amir Imam UD 12 Walter Castillo, junior welterweights 

Imam (17-0, 14 KO) remained unbeaten with a terrific display of boxing skills over Nicaragua’s Castillo (25-3, 18 KO) in another interesting prelim. Iman was faster and more skilled than Castillo and scored virtually at will throughout the bout, connecting at will and landing at a high rate with both hands, especially his right to earn scorecards of 99-91, 100-90 and 98-92.

Omar Chavez UD 8 Richard Gutierrez, middleweights

Fortunately, it wasn’t all bad news in the Chavez family. Omar Chavez (33-3-1, 22 KO), brother of the disgraced main event fighter and nicknamed “El Businessman”, found a way to take care of “el business” against a tough customer in Colombia’s Gutierrez (28-16-1, 17 KO) to give his legendary dad (sitting at ringside) at least one reason to smile. Chavez put some rounds in the bank earlier on, and was well ahead when Gutierrez finally decided to make a fight out of it. The home stretch featured some heated action with both fighters dishing out plenty of punishment. Chavez, however, was too young and strong for his foe, and got the W by scores of 78-74 and 77-75 (twice).

Fabian Maidana TKO 2 Cory Vom Baur, welterweights

Maidana (6-0, 5 KO), brother of former junior welterweight titlist Marcos, is on his way to becoming a knockout artist in his own right. Fighting out of Robert Garcia’s academy in Oxnard, Calif., he took care of Vom Baur (2-3) in a made-to-order demolition job while he grows into a full-blown contender.

Liverpool, England, April 18

Derry Mathews UD 12 Tony Luis, WBA interim lightweight title

Just when you thought you already had your weekly dose of WBA interim belts, here we go again! This time (just as with Escandon-Flores) Mathews (38-9-2, 20 KO) gave a performance worthy of a more relevant title by taking a terrific win over an upset-minded late substitute in Canada’s Luis (19-3, 7 KO). The tall and lanky Matthews scored non-stop from the beginning of the bout, imposing his larger frame against a Luis that simply kept on coming during the entire fight. A heated eighth round ended up with both fighters being penalized with a one-point deduction, but the scorecards finally were in favor of the local fighter by scores of 114-112 (twice) and 115-112.

Kiev, Ukraine, April 18th

Oleksandr Usyk TKO 8 Andrey Knyazev, cruiserweights

A long-awaited step up in competition for one of the best cruisers in the world. Former Olympic gold medalist Usyk (7-0, 7 KO) took his act one step further with this demolition of a very much upset-minded Knyazev (11-2, 6 KO) in an entertaining bout. Knyazev pressed the action and forced the superbly talented Usyk to score from a distance and to move around a lot in search for the very few openings left by his opponent. But Usyk’s strengths were too many for the one-dimensional Knyazev, and with former heavyweight world champion and Kiev mayor Vitali Klitschko in attendance he got the high profile win in front of his countrymen to secure a shot at the title very soon, in spite of his relatively little experience as a pro. Usyk is definitely a fighter worth following.