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Can Matthysse Dominate the Super Lightweight Division?

Photo Courtesy of AP/Mark J. Terrill Mais

Saturday night Lucas Matthysse (37-3) has the chance to go out and finally capture a world title as he squares off against the undefeated Ukrainian Viktor Postol (27-0) for the vacant WBC world super lightweight title.

Matthysse, who is known as one of the sport’s hardest punchers, has had his eyes set on the title opportunity ever since losing a decision to Danny Garcia back in 2013.  Since the loss, he has bounced back with three consecutive victories, including two knockouts, and the most recent a majority decision win over Ruslan Provodnikov earlier this year — a fight which can easily be considered a top contender for Fight of the Year.  The win against Provodnikov showed Matthysse’s versatility as a fighter, and showed the boxing world that he has much more in his arsenal than just knockout power.

With Danny Garcia vacating the super lightweight belt to move up to the welterweight division, the door is now open for Matthysse to seize the opportunity against Postol in capturing his first world title and making a run at dominating the weight class.

In what may be one of the most stacked divisions in boxing — with top names including WBO titlist Terence Crawford, IBF champion Lamont Peterson, Adrien Broner and Provodnikov — Matthysse will have his work cut out for him going forward in defending the belt if he is able to get past Postol Saturday.


Two of the most likely candidates for Matthysse are undefeated WBO champion Crawford and Broner.  Crawford made the move up to super lightweight back in April and finished Thomas Dulome in impressive fashion in the sixth round to claim the vacant WBO title, and will fight in his first defense of the belt against Dierry Jean later this month.  Stylistically Crawford — a southpaw — would be an interesting matchup for the power punching Matthysse.

And then there’s the flashy Broner, who will also be fighting Saturday night, vying for the vacant WBA super lightweight title against Khabib Allakhverdiev.  Broner at times has looked like a young Floyd Mayweather Jr., though the major exception being that isn’t nearly as untouchable.  Broner was on the fast track to undefeated supremacy when he ran right into the heavy hands of Marcos Maidana back in 2013, being put to the canvas twice and ultimately losing a unanimous decision and the WBA world welterweight title.  But, like champions do, he regained his winning ways and put a string of three victories together before getting picked apart by one of the sport’s top fighters in Shawn Porter.

So if Matthysse and Broner both emerge victoriously from the squared circle tomorrow night, a showdown could be in their immediate future.  Without a doubt it would be a fan-friendly fight. Win or lose, Matthysse has never participated in a boring match.  He comes to bang and will leave it all in the ring, and against a fighter like Broner who tends to stand directly in front of his opponent.

Against less skillful boxers Broner has been able to emulate Mayweather’s elusiveness with his shoulder roll, using it to time and counter his opponent with his quick check hook, but against the more aggressive fighters his defense has been futile.

Matthysse is in a position that all fighters dream of: To be able to set his own destiny and run away with the division by putting together a few wins.  With Danny Garcia out of the picture for the time being, it is now that Matthysse has to take the bull by the horns and win the big fights.

Saturday night will be indicative as to whether the skillful boxer he portrayed against Provodnikov was a one-time deal, and if he is able to combine the power punching with the technique to make him the most dangerous he has been yet in his career.  Or he may go out and resort to standing there and throwing caution to the wind, and relying on his sheer, unmatched knockout power, which has gotten him this far, lined up for a world title shot.

But if Matthysse is able to combine the best of both worlds — the power puncher and technical boxer — and roll it into one pugilist, it may make him not only the most complete fighter in the division, but maybe the world.


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