Stiff As A Life Sentence: Danny Garcia-Lucas Matthysse Preview

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Falling somewhere between the bearded lady and the lion tamer in its curiosity and danger, the fight between Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and Saul Alvarez—who face each other at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada on Saturday night—is without question the biggest event in boxing. Having learned a few months ago that the success of a Mayweather event is not exclusive of his opposition, Golden Boy Promotions is using the semi as a gruesome audition for Mayweather’s next opponent. Danny Garcia and Lucas Matthysse will try to unmake each other over a superfluously scheduled 12 rounds. At stake: the junior welterweight crown and a likely crack at Mayweather.

Few foresaw Garcia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, coming within reach of such a coveted prize. Against Golden Boy darling Amir Khan, Garcia was considered very much out of his depth. He hung tough, however, and ragdolled Khan with a left hook before stopping him in the fourth. There were also some concerning moments against bloated curmudgeon Eric Morales, and, in April, Garcia was given a surprisingly tough fight from a desperate Zab Judah.

Still, Garcia, 26-0 (16), has escaped these perils unscathed, knocking over an apple cart or two on the way. Leaving the talking to his lightning rod trainer/father, Angel, Garcia steps between the ropes and exhausts his ability. That ability includes decent power, sharp timing, and a good chin. Garcia, 25, exudes toughness as well, both in his composure, and the stitch of machismo embroidered into his game. No, there is nothing particularly remarkable about the workaday Garcia, nor is there anything particularly glaring. He is one of the best junior welterweights in the world; a distinction he shares with Lucas Matthysse.

There were bumps on Matthysse’s path to the ring on Saturday as well. Decision losses to Devon Alexander and Zab Judah could have derailed Matthysse, who at the time was little more than a foreign fighter looking to build a name in the US. But Matthysse, Trelew, Chubut, Argentina, rebounded by turning the ring into a mass grave recently, earning his murderous reputation by doing unforgettable things to forgettable opposition. Despite Matthysse’s collection of toe tags, skeptics remained, arguing that his mystique needed to be confirmed by an opponent who provided more than a dumping ground for his hostility. Tough, wilful, having never been stopped, Lamont Peterson was the man for the job. He lasted less than three rounds. Matthysse, 30, made his intentions clear after destroying Peterson: He wanted Danny Garcia. Garcia has obliged him.

In Matthysse, Garcia is facing a fighter who can short-circuit him with either hand. After taking his power, Matthysse’s opponents are either drawn immediately into a firefight they cannot win or forced into a futile game of keep away. Supremely confident, Matthysse can be overzealous, abandoning the head and upper body movement that—along with his maniacal attack—constitute his defense. In these bursts of aggression he can be caught. Hurting him, however, has proven to be a tall task. Judah cracked him with a Sunday punch that could have razed the Temple of Dagon. Matthysse merely smiled in mocking approval. If that is not a frightening enough portrait, consider that Matthysse, 34-2 (32), gets stronger as the fight progresses, boring into his opponents like Big Alma. Every fighter who has shared a ring with Matthysse has tasted the canvas.

Should Garcia expect a similar fate? Not necessarily. For a fighter with Garcia’s power and timing, Matthysse’s recklessness presents openings he need only exploit a few times. Nor will Garcia be easily dissuaded. If Matthysse wants to go toe-to-toe—and he will—Garcia will oblige him. To get wide or sloppy against Garcia is to tempt disaster, and Matthysse has done both in his frenzied pursuit of destruction.

Garcia, however, is unlikely to draw out Matthysse’s bad habits. Matthysse reserves those berserk moments for fighters who cannot hurt him and those in full retreat. Against Garcia, a stationary fighter who can bang, expect Matthysse to exhibit some restraint early. Yet, even if he bottles his aggression at the start, Matthysse will invest heavily in his right hand (a punch Garcia is susceptible to), which will provide Garcia with opportunities to land his Hail Mary left hook. This is Garcia’s one chance for victory: if he can catch Matthysse early, he has a chance to steal the fight. But this means exchanging with Matthysse, a disastrous proposition, one that, to borrow from Samuel Beckett, will leave Garcia, “as stiff as a life sentence.”

Well, perhaps that is too harsh a prediction. After all, Garcia has yet to meet such a fate in his career. How about this instead: in whatever capacity Garcia leaves the ring Saturday night, he will do so to the early drumbeat for Mayweather-Matthysse.

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Topics: Danny GArcia, JUNIOR WELTERWEIGHTS, Lucas Matthysse

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  • Steven Keaton

    The wager of Matthysse KO parlayed with under 8.5 rounds seems too good to be true. It seems so obvious

    • Jimmy Tobin

      Hi Steven,

      I’m betting all my monopoly money on Matthysse KO6.

  • thenonpareil

    Hi JT,

    nice work. Not many people seem to believe Garcia has much of a chance, but, what the hell, it’s the greatest PPV in history, according to those-in-the-know. Like you mentioned, Garcia doesn’t have the obvious flaws that guys like Khan or someone like Berto has. But he’s not enough of a pure boxer to keep Matthysse off of him for 12 rounds and he doesn’t have the slickness of the two guys who beat Matthysse–Judah and Alexander. And, unlike them, Garcia is not a southpaw. Bet the under!

    • Jimmy Tobin

      Hi CA,

      Thanks very much. I’m admittedly a big fan of Matthysse. He’s the type of prizefighter I like: he doesn’t do a lot of talking, take fucking selfies of himself in his new clothes, or any of that other bullshit. Oh, and he lays guys the fuck out. Given my affinity for him this might read as a rather subjective interpretation of what will transpire. But I’d disagree with that assessment. I think I give Garcia all the props he deserves. I like him, and I respect that a guy like Garcia gets over without any flash. He’s a real fighter. He’s just not on Matthysse’s level.

      Here’s what I don’t get: what’s the deal with all this timing talk? Garcia has great timing, he has superior timing, look out for his timing, etc. How much stock am I supposed to put in timing? Am I supposed to rank it with things like power, ring intelligence, footwork, chin, etc? I tried to build an argument for Garcia based on what he does better than Matthysse, and that was limited to timing. But people who give Garcia a real shot base most of that on his timing. Is this timing thing a legit reason to give Garcia a chance? Or is it his one discernible superiority pumped up on gamma rays?

      • thenonpareil

        Hi JT,

        after stretching Khan, Garcia immediately shot to #2 on my P-4-P Timing list.

        No, seriously, Garcia is a decent counterpuncher, and I suspect that’s where the timing talk comes from. People forget that Garcia was an accomplished amateur; he knows what he’s doing in there, even if he sometimes is a little wild. I think he’s a better boxer than Matthysse, has a better defense, and is a little cagier. Not by much, maybe, but I give Garcia that. It’s just a question of whether he can stick to a game plan of circling and turning Matthysse. Also, of not getting poleaxed by The Machine. It looks like a bad style matchup for Garcia to me, but who knows? I guess the idea is Garcia may have enough power in his left to counter Matthysse into oblivion, since Matthysse does reach with his punches often. But gamma rays are possible, too!

  • Jonah G

    Excellent work as always JT. A lot of us serious boxing freaks seem to think this fight has FOTY potential,but I don’t see it. Don’t get me wrong, I want to see a brutal back-and-forth slugfest just like most fans,but I think Matthysse stops Garcia sometime between 6-8. There’s no doubt that Danny has underrated boxing skills and power,but he gets hit too much and can be drawn in to exchanging too often. Whenever I think of Danny’s chances in this fight,I’m reminded of his first fight with Morales and the Judah fight. If way past their best Morales and Judah can stun Garcia, I think Lucas stops him relatively early. Everyone knows about the ignorance of Angel, but Danny and his “Latin goonies” squad are almost as comically ignorant as his father is. Danny Garcia is concerned with his nonsensical “rapping” and wardrobe,while Lucas Matthysse is a man’s man.Anyway, whatever happens this weekend,I look forward to the wrap up by the cruelest sport. Carlos Acevedo and Tobin are one of the best 1-2 combinations in all of boxing. Let’s all just hope this whole card lives up to the hype and we get our $70 bucks worth without any of the normal controversy that sometimes comes with a big boxing event. Cheers everyone,this is a good week to be a boxing fan

    • Jimmy Tobin

      Hi Jonah,

      Thanks for the kind words. I kept going back to the Morales and Judah fights myself. Danny is just too hittable, and too willing to scrap it out (it’s not like he’s gonna box Matthysse–he doesn’t have the wheels). Still, watch highlights of Matthysse on YouTube: every clip shows him getting wide. He threw the hook that dropped Peterson the first time from friggin’ Oregon. Garcia will find him, and might only might need to do so a few times.

      If Matthysse is special, and I suspect he is, Garcia gets mulched. If he isn’t, we have a fight on our hands. I happen to think the former is true. But it’ll be awesome either way.

      Enjoy my friend!

  • Dennis Wise

    Jt, great read. I agree with your assessment of this fight. I’d love to see Lucas go through some adversity along the way, though.