Everyone who calls themselves a hardcore boxing fan can finally agree on something. No matter who you favor in this potential Fight of the Year candidate, 99.9% us who will be tuning in this Saturday night seem to think it will produce fireworks for large portion of this fight. The only question being, will there be a grand finally style knockout at the end of the fight? As if this pick’em type matchup on paper isn’t enough, the winner will get undefeated Danny Garcia September 7th, not to mention a dangling diamond carrot in Floyd “Money” Mayweather possibly as soon as next year. I’ve pondered this fight for some time now trying to get some clarity on who I would pick and why for the prediction segment on my Wednesday podcast show Rope A Dope Radio. This fight is very tough pick and just the way I like it.
Both fighters have proven to be slow starters like many come forward fighters. Lamont Peterson has compounded that problem with hitting the canvas putting him in a hole early in some fights. Likewise, both love to get inside to put in work to the body early and often. Of course there is a price to pay to get on the inside when facing top level talent. Matthysse gets hit plenty, as does Peterson, but Lucas has shown a better chin in his quest to take the fight to his opponent. Timothy Bradley is a sharp puncher with some pop but not usually known for his ability to score knockdowns, was able to put Lamont on his butt early. To Peterson’s credit once he established his position he did bang Bradley to the body which forced him to do his fighting on the outside with pot shots. Victor Ortiz and to a lesser extent Amir Khan put Peterson down early as well, only to see him storm his way back in to the fight.
Humberto Soto gave Matthysse hell early until Lucas was able to move his head enough and counter what Soto was doing. Zab Judah raced out to a lead but left the fight stating that Lucas is the hardest hitting fighter he had ever faced. Many saw the fight with Zab was much closer than his fight with Devon Alexander, who seemed to get the hometown decision. Both fighters have improved their skill level with a tighter defense while still being able to land the better punches when the action is in close corners. It’s been said millions of times for good reason, when the style matchup is toe to toe, the fighter who makes the slight adjustment usually wins. Matthysse has shown some ability to move his head, setting up his head shots with a body shots or jab and also countering over his opponent’s punches landing the heavier shots. Lamont has made his defense a little tighter with both hands held very high to protect his head, also using his long arms to protect his body with his elbows.
If this fight takes place with both guys banging it out standing right in front of each other, it’s safe to assume the man with more power, in this case Matthysse, will find a way to drop, hurt, or even possibly knockout Peterson. Peterson does have an advantage with speed, reach, and his resume win, lose, or draw is a tad bit deeper. But you could say the same thing about Zab Judah and Devon Alexander’s. Using that reach and speed with a jab and subtle movement would be a very smart game plan. Something his Trainer Barry Hunter eluded to in his interview with Nes for thaboxingvoice.com. Barry made a good point by saying Lamont barely lost a round using his boxing skills on the way up, only to abandon them in his first title shot versus Timothy Bradley.
I expect that Lamont will try to fight smarter from a distance. With that said if gets hurt or dropped, it’s very logical to think he will go back to what we have seen in his most recent fights, which tends to be recklessly coming forward right in the wheelhouse of Lucas Matthysse. Lamont can at times get stuck halfway in and halfway out, only to get peppered with counter shots trying to establish position. He did show ability to box on the outside on the way up but that was against inferior opponents. You wonder how that style will work versus an aggressive fighter like “The Machine” Matthysse. Someone who has already tracked down what some people would call track stars like Devon Alexander and Zab Judah, who have had success with a jab and boxing skills to counter off their defense. When push comes to shove I see a more strategic game plan from Lamont Peterson which will have him coming up short but lasting the distance. There is however something that has bubbled up to the surface on fight week that could be the difference in this highly debated fight. Matthysse’s house in Argentina was robbed and it delayed his travel plans to America. The hours spent at an airport getting his passport issues handled plus a 10 hour flight can take a toll on the body so close to the fight. Mentally maybe, at the very he least the risk of a getting sick, lack of sleep, let alone traveling that far behind your schedule time for arrival on fight week could make him sluggish. Even though I see Matthysse by UD with a round or two that will be in the Top 5 round of the year debate, I also plan to put some money down on Peterson who is a +350 underdog which in my opinion is way too wide of a spread.