It’s been a time of turbulence and adversity for Mathieu “G-Time” Germain, but this past Saturday proved that all he’s endured over the last two difficult years was not for nothing. In his rematch against Steve “The Dragon” Claggett at the Hilton Hotel in Quebec City, Germain used quicker hands, educated footwork, and clever combination punching to earn a split-decision win over his Albertan rival. Claggett vs Germain II gave fans a great fight, as “G-Time” gave a most impressive performance. And in doing so, Mathieu resurrected his career.
When “The Dragon” (19-2-1) and “G-Time” (29-7-2) first locked-up in 2019 at the Montreal Casino, Germain was undefeated, though yet to face a notable contender. Conversely, Claggett already had five losses on his record, but he was the more battle-tested, having faced several undefeated fighters. That first duel was an excellent one, highly competitive and featuring relentless action. There was virtually no let-up as both men traded furiously for all ten rounds. In the end, the result was a draw, a fitting outcome as neither man had a decided edge and both had performed admirably.
But since that night, the careers of these two pugilists had gone in opposite directions. Germain was shockingly stopped by the unknown Uriel Perez in 2019, and then, most recently, he was dominated by local rival Yves Ulysse Jr. Claggett went 2-1 during the same interval, the defeat being a highly competitive loss to Ulysse Jr. in their rematch. And Claggett’s most recent performance was in stark contrast to Germain’s, as he used his trademark pressure and volume to break David Theroux down in six rounds.
With that dominant performance over Theroux, Claggett had a full head of steam going into the rematch with Germain; the momentum appeared to be on his side. But for Germain, this was make-or-break, do-or-die. A defeat to Claggett would be another huge setback, a third one in as many years, and one that left him with few options to move forward. But Mathieu wasn’t willing to admit that just yet. He was ready for one last stand, one last fight.
In round eleven of their rivalry, Claggett and Germain picked up where they left off. There was no feeling-out period as they went right at each other in the center of the ring. Germain exhibited no ill-effects from his crushing loss to Ulysse, showing sharp combinations and good defensive reflexes. Claggett was as busy as always, repeatedly firing out the jab and forcing his way to the inside. But Germain was more than happy to trade toe-to-toe, and he proved just as capable there, using his faster hands to pepper Claggett while consistently mixing in hard body shots as well.
The fight continued at a torrid pace, neither man taking any time off. And there wasn’t a round that either man could say they dominated. While Germain’s punches didn’t land with the same power and weight as Claggett’s, his flurries came with more frequency and captured the judges’ attention, while his subtle defensive maneuvers on the inside took the sting off of Claggett’s shots. Germain also deftly used his upper body strength to create room to work when battling in the trenches.
The pitched battle continued to the final bell, and it was anybody’s guess as to who would be declared the winner. It depended on the judges’ preference; did they like Claggett’s power and aggression, or Germain’s volume punching and slick skills? In the end, they awarded Germain a split-decision victory by scores of 97-93, 96-94, and 93-97.
For Germain, it was a tremendous performance while under intense pressure, one that resuscitated a career that was on life support. With the victory, Germain now has new life in the Four Aces tournament. And no one will complain if the next move is to make Germain vs Claggett a trilogy given how action-packed the first two fights have been. One senses you could match these two a hundred times, and every single clash would be a barn-burner. Also, if the Germain of Saturday shows up against Ulysse in a rematch, the result should be far more competitive than their first fight.
Despite losing another close battle, Claggett’s stock doesn’t fall too much as what matters most is that in every one of his defeats, he was competitive. Just as he has in the past, Claggett will learn from this loss and fuel it to make improvements. And he has plenty of opportunities to show those potential improvements in the remaining tournament matches. Fans are in for a treat with trilogy bouts involving Ulysse and Germain, as they are with every bout featuring “The Dragon.” The gutsy Albertan brings it every time he steps through the ropes, which is why Canadian fans appreciate him.
Claggett made his intentions clear in an Instagram video following the loss: “I haven’t shown my best yet and I have so much more. Big respect to G-Time. Fighters fight, it’s part of the game, and now it’s time to rebuild. I know I have to make a few adjustments in my boxing life and I will. I can’t wait to bounce back and show everyone what this heart is made of. I am not done yet; I am just getting started.”
While neither Claggett nor Germain is knocking on the door of a world-title fight, that doesn’t mean these two warriors are not worth watching, far from it. They are still two of the best domestic fighters in their weight class who give fans serious action and entertainment. And more than anything, that’s what’s important to die-hard boxing fans. It doesn’t matter if there’s a belt on the line or not; true fight fans value courage, action, tenacity and heart above all else, and Claggett vs Germain II checked all those boxes. Bring on the trilogy fight! — Jamie Rebner
Photos by Vincent Ethier