UNDERCARDS BOLSTER BIG BOXING SHOWS — The undercards are slowly taking shape for some of the big shows coming down the pike in the next few months. The latest dispatch from Golden Boy Promotions contains the news that Lucas Matthysse (37-4, 34 KOs) has been added to the big Cinco de Mayo card on May 6 in Las Vegas. No opponent has been announced for the Argentine slugger who will be moving up in weight to compete at 147, but former WBA 140-pound champion Pablo Cesar Cano (30-5-1) is the frontrunner.
Matthysse (pictured overwhelming Lamont Peterson) has a style that invites comparison to the late Arturo Gatti. His 2014 bout with John Molina Jr. was named The Ring magazine Fight of the Year and his bout the next year with Ruslan Provodnikov was a serious contender for that honor. But like Gatti there are holes in his defense and he can be out-slicked by a boxer that keeps his composure. In his last bout, against Victor Postol, he was stopped in the 10th round, taking the count on one knee after being temporarily blinded by a straight right hand.
That was 19 months ago and Matthysse is now 34 years old. But if he’s lost something, he’s yet still capable of delivering a zesty performance.
The ubiquitous Premier Boxing Champions is back on Showtime this coming Saturday. The staging ground is the Cintas Center in Cincinnati. In one of the co-features, Lamont Peterson challenges David Avanesyan for the WBA world welterweight title. The other 12-rounder finds Queen City problem child Adrien Broner displaying his wares against Adrian Granados.
The fight in the third slot, a 10-round contest between light heavyweights Marcus Browne (18-0, 13 KOs) and Thomas Williams Jr. (20-2, 14 KOs) may steal the show. Both have something to prove after disappointing efforts in their last fights. Browne, a former Olympian and three-time New York City Golden Gloves champion, kept his unbeaten record intact, but many thought his split decision victory over previously undefeated Radivoje Kalajdzic was of the nature of a gift. Thomas Williams Jr. was stopped in the fourth round in a failed bid to dethrone WBC 175-pound titlist Adonis Stevenson.
Williams, by the way, is the son of the former journeyman heavyweight who fought the likes of John Ruiz, Iran Barkley, and Brian Nielsen. The elder Williams is the only boxer in history to be imprisoned for accepting a bribe to lose a fight, which is a story for another day.
Deontay Wilder is expected to have an easy go of it when he makes the fifth defense of his WBC world heavyweight title against Gerald Washington on May 25 at Birmingham, Ala. However, even if the fight is competitive it may be anti-climactic after junior middleweights Jarrett Hurd and Tony Harrison complete their set-to.
In his last three starts, Hurd (19-0, 13 KOs) looked sensational. Harrison (24-1, 20 KOs), a third-generation prizefighter – his grandfather Henry Hank was a prominent middleweight and light heavyweight in the 1960s – earned his spurs as a novice under Emanuel Steward at the Kronk Gym and just may prove to be the best fighter in his weight class to bubble out of Detroit since Thomas Hearns. The prize for the victor is a match with WBC 154-pound champion Jermell Charlo.
The show also includes a heavyweight match between Dominic Breazeale and Izuagbu Ugonoh. A former European kickboxing champion who is 17-0 as a conventional boxer, Ugonoh, of Nigerian descent, was born and raised in Szczecin, Poland. A stablemate of Joseph Parker, he’s an intriguing prospect and Breazeale will provide a good measuring rod.
The action heats up in March with the eagerly anticipated showdown between undefeated welterweights Keith Thurman and Danny Garcia kicking off a strong month. The addition of a 10-round light heavyweight bout between Andrzje Fonfara (28-4, 16 KOs) and Chad Dawson (34-4, 19 KOs) adds spice to the March 4 show at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Fonfara was on the wrong end of a massive upset in his last outing on June 18 when he was stopped in the opening round by Joe Smith Jr. Heading into that match, the Chicago-based Pole was in fine form, having won three straight against quality opposition after a competitive showing against Adonis Stevenson.
Chad Dawson, now in his 16th year as a pro, is a former WBC and IBF world light heavyweight champion. His career has sputtered since his signature win over Bernard Hopkins in 2012, but it may bode well for him that he was the first man to defeat another Polish fighter of note, namely Tomasz Adamek.
The addition of Fonfara-Dawson seemingly bumps the fight between Erickson Lubin and Jorge Cota out of the chief undercard slot. That makes sense as Lubin (17-0, 12 KOs) looks like the real deal whereas Cota, despite an impressive record (25-1, 22 KOs), would be making only his second start in the last 39 months.
Born in Orlando, Florida to Haitian immigrants, Lubin turned pro in 2013 at age 18. That was considered a big blow to the amateur program in the U.S. as Lubin was then considered America’s brightest hope for an Olympic gold medal in 2016. If he gets by Cota, he is expected to fight the winner of the junior middleweight title match the following Saturday between Jermell Charlo and Charles Hatley. Jermell Charlo, the twin brother of Jermall (both own shares of the 154-pound title), is a solid favorite over Hatley.
On March 18, it’s Gennady Golovkin vs. Daniel Jacobs on HBO PPV from Madison Square Garden. On the undercard, super flyweights Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez and Carlos Cuadras appear in separate bouts, likely the preambles to a rematch. A 10-round contest between lightweights Ryan Martin and Bryant Cruz will get things started on the TV portion of the card.
Martin (17-0, 10 KOs), from Cleveland by way of Chattanooga, TN, is the stronger prospect, but Cruz (17-1, 8 KOs), who hails from blue-collar Port Chester, NY, will have something of a home court advantage. Down the road, Martin hopes to renew acquaintances with current IBF world lightweight champion Robert Easter. Martin lost a narrow decision to Easter in the 2012 Olympic trials.
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