INGLEWOOD, Calif.-After lulling the crowd to sleep Argentina’s Lucas Matthysse finally put Thailand’s Tewa Kiram to sleep in the eighth round to win the WBA welterweight title by knockout on Saturday. In an earlier world title fight Jorge Linares maintained the WBA world lightweight title.
Matthysse (39-4, 36 KOs) grabbed his first world title by catching up to the always moving Kiram (37-1, 27 KOs) and dropping the Thai fighter twice before a crowd of more than 6,000 at the Inglewood Forum.
Until the knockout, the crowd was restless and booed the lack of serious exchanges.
On paper the two welterweights combined flaunted 75 wins and 62 knockouts. But for seven rounds the crowd and those watching on television saw Kiram jab, move and hold as Matthysse looked to exchange. The crowd shouted obscenities except for the Argentine contingent that gave their famous soccer cheers.
Matthysse was rather patient, probably because he was never truly hurt by any of Kiram’s punches. So he continued stalking as the rounds mounted up. Every so often a solid blow landed but nothing to brag about.
“He moved really well and he was really big,” said Matthysse. “That’s why it was hard to cut the distance.”
In the eighth round Matthysse finally caught up to the taller Kiram with the left jab. And it was a very strong Ike Quartey-type of jab that delivered the Thai fighter to the canvas early in the round. Kiram got up and tried moving away when Matthysse delivered another one-two and down went Kiram. Referee Raul Caiz stopped the fight at 1:21 to give Matthysse the win and the WBA title by knockout.
“I’m really happy,” said Matthysse who trained in Indio, Calif. with trainer Joel Diaz for this fight. “I’m here for the best and biggest names.”
Among those he selected verbally are Danny Garcia and Manny Pacquiao.
“Those are the big fights I want,” he said.
Venezuela’s Jorge Linares (44-3, 27 KOs) retained the WBA lightweight world title by unanimous decision over Filipino southpaw Mercito Gesta (31-2-2, 17 KOs) in a very sportsman-like fight. That was the problem for the challenger.
Though Gesta has the tools and one of the best chins in the lightweight division, he allowed Linares to maintain control of the tempo and kept the fight clean as a whistle, when dirty as a garbage disposal would have been more beneficial.
Linares had problems early when Gesta attacked at a faster tempo. But once the tempo slowed, Linares was able to utilize his world championship experience to keep the fight at his pace and his distance.
“I didn’t really feel his power,” said Linares. “I hurt my hand in the fourth or fifth round.”
Every so often Gesta unleashed an angry fuselage of blows that made Linares uncomfortable. But then a return to normalcy allowed Linares to reset and control the fight. Lead rights by Linares were pinpoint and impressive and all three judges saw the Venezuelan known as “El Nino de Oro” as the winner by scores of 118-110 twice and 117-111. No knockdowns were scored as Linares retains the world title.
“I don’t want to mention names for my next opponent,” Linares said. “You know what’s nice? That people mention my name.”
It was one of those 1950s style of welterweight fights that saw Argentina’s Marcelino “Nino” Lopez (34-2-1, 19 KOs) knock out Colombia’s Breidis Prescott (30-12, 22 KOs) in the fifth round. For four rounds the two sluggers battered each other feverishly until an angry exchange of blows saw the muscular Lopez connect with a counter overhand right that dropped Prescott. The lanky Colombian got up and instead of looking for shelter he launched his own missiles but ran into yet another right cross. Prescott could not get up as referee Tom Taylor counted him out at 2:59 of the fifth round in an extremely solid performance by both fighters.
It was no surprise that Romero Duro (16-1,14 KOs) blew out Yardley Armenta (21-10, 12 KOs) at 1:01 of the first round in their lightweight encounter. Some vicious rights to the body followed by head shots and return blows to the liver ended the fight early. Duro fights out of the Philippines and looks like a very strong fighter at 135 pounds.
“I was expecting to knock him out in the first round,” said Duro. “My coach told me to go in there and use my jab and to keep calm but I just got really excited and the next thing I knew, I won.”
A battle between undefeated featherweights saw Francisco Esparza (7-0-1, 3 KOs) stop L.A.-based Tenochtitlan Nava (7-1) at 1:43 of the sixth round. A chopping right hand by Esparza hurt Nava in the fifth round but he survived the round. Esparza jumped on Nava in the sixth round and connected with a left hook and follow up blows that forced referee Tom Taylor to halt the fight. Esparza is trained by Fernando “El Feroz” Vargas and fights out of Las Vegas.
“We were expecting a knockout by the eighth round,” said Esparza adding that his trainer Vargas set up a game plan for this fight that was executed perfectly. “We broke down Nava.”
Ferdinand Kerobyan (8-0, 4 KOs) of North Hollywood dominated Compton’s Lucius Johnson (4-2-1, 3 KOs) for five of the six super welterweight rounds. But that sixth and last round saw Johnson connect with a looping right that stunned Kerobyan who stumbled down later. But it was ruled he lost his footing. Still, the two put on a pretty exciting fight that saw Kerobyan unleash some vicious combinations. Johnson showed a good chin and resilience in never quitting. It’s a fight worthy of a rematch. All three judges scored in favor of Kerobyan.
“I’m just ready to start stepping up the level of the competition I am facing,” said Kerobyan. “I want to be able to start fighting for some regional titles soon.”
Daquan (Arnett) Pauldo (17-1, 9 KOs) started slow but ended fast in defeating Osbaldo Gonzalez (6-2, 4 KOs) by unanimous decision after six middleweight rounds. There were no knockdowns.
Javier Martinez (5-0, 3 KOs) survived an early knockdown to win by decision after six rounds versus Mexico City’s Danny Flores (11-10-1) in a featherweight match. Martinez hails from Dallas, Texas.
Photo credit: Al Applerose
Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel.