Argentina’s Lucas “The Machine” Matthysse and John Molina Jr. engaged in a potential Fight of the Year and Keith Thurman shortcircuited Julio Diaz in knockout ending fights on Saturday at theStubHub Center.
Seems every time a fight card takes place in the Carson stadium itstirs riveting results. This time the co-main event stole the showwith Matthysse (35-3, 33 Kos) surviving two knockdowns to score a pairof knockdowns himself in winning a blazing fight against SouthernCalifornia’s Molina (27-4, 22 Kos).
Molina erupted early against the heavy-handed Argentine with his ownthunder in the first round. An overhand right connected and sentMatthysse hurling across the ring. It proved that it was not going tobe one-sided due to Molina rising up from the lightweight division tothe junior welterweights.
Another overhand right sent Matthysse to the mat in round two. If hethought the first big blow was an aberration, the second one showedMolina packed power too in his rangy body.
Matthysse re-gained his footing in the third round with a stiff andaccurate jab and some well-placed combinations. It looked like he wasgoing to turn things around but an accidental clash of heads opened acut on the Argentine. A worrisome look crossed his face at the end ofthe round.
The Argentine slugger resumed his mixture of jabs and combinations tothe body and head and was clearly winning the round. Toward the last40 seconds Molina connected once more with a right and Matthysse wassent to his knees once again. When the fight resumed he scrambled toevade any more blows from the hard charging Molina.
Matthysse resumed his boxing and was again winning when he was caughtwith yet another overhand right. It was one of those rounds where oneboxer was winning the majority of the round but was hurt more by onepunch.
Slowly the fight was turning in Matthysse’s favor as he beganconnecting with combinations. A short winged combination aided by apush sent Molina down to the floor. Referee Pat Russell mistakenlyruled it a knockdown but could not see the push. No matter, Molina didnot complain.
By the 10th round it was clear that the blows to the body and head ofMolina were sapping his energy. Though he was fighting back, hispunches were wider and not landing as in earlier rounds. Aneight-punch barrage sent Molina slumped to the ground for the firstlegitimate knockdown for Matthysse. Molina looked very weak as he gotup and walked to his corner. The ringside physician examined theCovina fighter and allowed the fight to continue. Molina looked spent.
Matthysse shot out across the ring and fired a right hand. Molinaevaded the big blows by a four-punch combination sent Molina crumblingin the corner once again and the fight was waved off 22 seconds intothe 11th round.
“He’s a very strong fighter,” said Matthysse who knew Molina wasmoving up in weight. “I was worried but I came back.”
Molina, whose last fight was a come-from-behind knockout win in thelast round against Mickey Bey Jr., had told anyone that asked that hewanted this fight and was not worried about Matthysse’s power.
“I was just happy we could give the fans a good fight,” saidMolina. “I think I was the only one to hurt him like that…he’sthe real deal. He can punch.”
Another who can punch is Florida’s Thurman who caught formerlightweight world champion Diaz with a right to the ribs in the thirdround to end the fight.
“I felt the body shot land, I felt he was going to go down,” saidThurman.
Up to that point, but fighters were exchanging and still on test mode.But Thurman floored Diaz in round two with a left hook to the head andafter a few seconds, Diaz took a knee.
“I landed a left hook to the temple,” said the undefeatedwelterweight about the knockdown that saw Diaz take a knee. “It wasa wise decision.”
Diaz said that he temporarily blacked out and needed the time toregroup. He resumed the fight and leaped to counter-attack mode whenthe round ended. Then came the blow to the body in round three and itwas over as Diaz’s trainer and brother Joel Diaz ended the fight.
“I got caught with a good body shot to the ribs,” said Julio Diaz.”I’ve never given up in a fight.”
It was a wise move as Diaz confessed it was hard to breathe and therewere eight more rounds to go. He gave Thurman a good grade for hisperformance.
“You got to give space to these young cats,” he said.
Omar “Panterita” Figueroa (23-0-1, 17 Kos) remained undefeatedwith a split-decision win over fellow Texan Jerry Belmontes (19-4) andretained the WBC lightweight title. It was a close fight that saw twojudges prefer the busier punching Figueroa to Belmontes running andsniping style. There were no knockdowns in the fight that began wellin the first six rounds, but became a footrace in the second half tothe dismay of the fans.
“He was just running,” said Figueroa.
Middleweight Jermall Charlo ( 18-0, 14 Kos) stopped Hector Munoz(22-13-1) in the fourth round.
Sharif Bogere (24-1, 16 Kos) returned after a long layoff to win byknockout over Arturo Urena (20-17-1) in the sixth round of alightweight match.
Frankie Gomez (17-0, 13 Kos) stopped Orlando Vazquez (12-4-1 in thesecond round of a welterweight fight.
JoJo Diaz (10-0, 7 Kos) defeated veteran Luis Maldonado (36-13-1) byunanimous decision in a junior featherweight bout.