The co-main event of the Mayweather vs. Canelo mega-fight featured the fearsome Lucas Matthysse challenging Danny “Swift” Garcia in a bout for junior welterweight supremacy. Despite holding the lineal title, Garcia was considered the underdog given the Argentinean’s perceived advantage in punching power. However, the minority who favoured Danny posited he was the more skilled prizefighter of the two, betting his skills could nullify Matthysse’s iron-fisted attack. Either way, a violent and thrilling confrontation was widely expected by the boxing public based on both fighters’ offensive capabilities.
The opening rounds were tense, as both worked to adjust their timing and to assess the opponent’s tendencies. The opening salves were scarce but loaded with malign intentions. Matthysse loaded up and fired the right hand, while Garcia retaliated with left hooks. The South American connected occasionally with his cross, but Garcia proved his chin’s sturdiness, coming back with shots of his own without missing a step.
As the bout moved into the middle rounds the action remained sparse. However, a well-placed hook by Danny in the seventh round changed the course of the fight as it caused Matthysse’s eye to swell significantly in only a matter of minutes. As Lucas lost visibility of his right flank, Garcia stepped up his use of the left hook, scoring with mounting ease. At the same time, Lucas became more mindful of firing off his right hand, which he kept close to the right side of his face to try and protect his damaged eye.
Garcia continued to assert his dominant strategy in the late rounds. He moved around the ring, picking his spots and scoring offensively with combinations. When Matthysse succeeded in closing the distance to throw shots of his own, Danny evaded most of them with body movement and then tied up Lucas to deny him the chance to follow up. In the tenth round Matthysse mounted a mini-rally, momentarily grasping momentum of the fight, but Garcia came back to score a knockdown in the eleventh with a quick combination.
Despite losing a point in the final round for a low blow—probably launched to counter Matthysse’s rising sense of urgency—the Philadelphian earned a clear unanimous decision in a bout that, despite failing to live up to its lofty expectations of excitement, proved that Danny Garcia is a skilled, smart technician and the best 140-pounder in the world.
Garcia vs Matthysse provided a good spectacle, but not the Fight of the Year many of us wanted to see. Regardless, Garcia’s credibility rose momentously and immediately with his excellent performance. Not only did he take on the most dangerous opponent he’s ever faced in Matthysse, but he also won the contest clearly while showing great skills and ring IQ. Instead of standing toe-to-toe with one of the most murderous punchers in the game, he relied on adept foot movement and boxing technique to nullify his opponent’s most effective weapons. It must be said that it also helped his case that Matthysse was tightly wound in the early rounds, as if focused only on landing the one, huge monster punch that would accrue him a highlight-reel knockout, when instead he should have focused on working behind a jab in order to set up combinations and body punches.
Since Matthysse’s loss of visibility out of his right eye played a large part in his defeat, a rematch is definitely warranted. However, that option seems to be off the table, since Golden Boy is desperate to find future opponents to feed to Floyd Mayweather Jr. While Danny may not be due to play the supporting role in the next Mayweather mega-event in May of 2014—when the Pretty Boy expects to step into the ring again—a move up to welterweight is in order to begin the period of acclimation. Rivals such as Jesus Soto-Karass, Paulie Malignaggi or Robert Guerrero would do nicely in welcoming him to the 147-pounds weight class in high-profile but winnable fights. Perhaps a follow-up with Adrien Broner, should “The Problem” get past Maidana, would be the fairest way to find a future Mayweather opponent.
Still, should he get the Mayweather contract in the near future, despite his impressive domination of Matthysse, Garcia’s chances against the master boxer that is Mayweather remain slim. But then again, if not Garcia, who else is worthy of facing the most talented fighter of this generation? The winner of the impending Alexander vs Khan clash is touted as an option, but it’s hard to argue that either is more deserving than the tough, skilled Philadelphian.
On the other hand, after his lackluster display last night, Matthysse needs to re-evaluate his strategic approach and realize he can’t expect to steam-roll top-level opposition like he did his B-level adversaries. Once he is ready to step back into the ring, he will still make for exciting fights and will remain must-see material, but he needs to diversify his game and get re-acquainted with the concept of ring generalship if he intends to make another run for glory. The deep pool of talent at 140 and 147 pounds available to Golden Boy fighters will allow him to come back in an eye-catching card, and whenever he’s ready to return, we will be looking forward to watching The Machine back in action. — Rafael Garcia