John Molina came in the underdog against Lucas Matthysse in a junior lightweight tangle on Showtime, on Saturday night from the StubHub Center, but it looked like he'd exit with newfound respect, as he sent Matthysse down twice, in the second and fifth rounds.
But Matthysse stayed focused, and when Molina tired, The Machine picked it up. He sent Molina down in round ten, and if he had ten more seconds, that would have been it. Matthysse came out and looked to end it at the start of the 11th; he did, at 22 seconds elapsed in that round, Molina was all done.
The crowd, every one in the building got more than their money's worth from this one. They oohed and ahhed regularly.
Jim Gray spoke to both after. Matthysse said he knew he was still in it to win it after being knocked down. He lauded Molina as a really good boxer. Next? He would like a rematch with Danny Garcia. Molina said he'd like to fight Matthysse again, and called it a "helluva fight." He called it a "great notch" in his belt, and assured all that he was OK.
Matt went 275-573 to 104-392 for the loser. Matthysse was ahead on all three cards at the time of the stop, for the record.
Matthysse's buzz evaporated after Danny Garcia beat him, and he was looking to grab some of that acclaim back. The Argentine who had Richard Schaefer enthusing over him as a new Pacquiao after he obliterated Lamont Peterson a few months before Garcia bested him.
In the first, Molina moved to his left, into the Matt right. But he looked big, and had a reach advantage over Matt. A right hurt Matt, and Molina went after him. Matt collected himself and was bombing by the last part of the round.
In the second, we saw Matt looked to land rights to the body, but Molina moved well to avoid being tagged. He actually dropped Matt, via a right, at 35 seconds. The right came while Matt was backtracking lazily.
In the third, Matt tried to exert more pressure. He jabbed more, fought with more vigor. The clashed heads, and Matt's left eye was cut. The round was rugged, with a couple surly clinches erupting.
In the fourth, Matt's jab was working. Mo wanted to answer with his own stiff jab. But the Argentine woke up, and fought nasty and took the round.
In the fifth, a right to the body hurt Mo some. A right, however, sent Matthysse down, with under a minute left. It was from an illegal shot, behind the head.
In the sixth, Molina got nailed by an uppercut. But a right stunned Matt late. In the seventh, we saw that Al B and Danny Jacobs had Molina ahead, while Steve Farhood had it even. The men were toe to toe for most of the three minutes by this point. It looked like a cut opened on the left side of Molina's head by this point.
In the eighth, Matt double jabbed to set the table for himself. Caught on the ropes, Molina managed to avoid the full thrust of a Matt power launch. Down went Molina, though, from fatigue and a push, at 15 seconds remaining.
In the ninth, Matt was in Machine mode. He landed hooks on both sides of Molina's head, and a left hook on the jaw had the crowd crazed. Molina looked almost out on his feet, but grinned after eating a bomb. In the 10th, Matt bombed, Mo ate...and kept coming back for more. Then he went down, to a knee, after eating a load of shots, on the ropes. He was saved by the bell.
In the 11th, Matt basted him, down he went, and the ref halted it.
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV