Sure is funny how a Saturday night in Jersey can change things.
When the Showtime Championship Boxing card from Boardwalk Hall began a few minutes after 9 p.m. ET, the talking heads on the premium cable network’s in-house set were framing the imminent events as Devon Alexander’s audition for a role as second banana to the sport’s biggest cash cow.
If he impresses against stand-in Lee Purdy, they opined, Floyd Mayweather Jr. would be waiting.
And bless his heart if the IBF champ from St. Louis didn’t go out and do his job, overcome a damaged left hand and make the English challenger’s corner think better of the combat after seven one-sided rounds—a decision that allowed Alexander to improve to 25-1 in nine years as a quality pro.
Problem is…the rest of the night didn’t go exactly according to the Alexander script.
Rather than simply titillating against 140-pound title claimant Lamont Peterson in what many saw as a slam dunk 2013 fight of the year, Argentine import Lucas Matthysse put on a performance that stretches his career arc light years beyond such short-sighted baubles.
And while the immediate aftermath of the three-knockdown blitzkrieg merely prompted Showtime toward repeated camera shots of prospective next opponent Danny Garcia at ringside, it says here that the South American’s itinerary ought to include pursuit of a much more lucrative quarry this summer.
Yes, Argentina…Lucas Matthysse is ready for his “Money” shot.
Now 34-2 in his own nine-year pro career, Matthysse shook off a strategically daunting first round and ultimately knocked a fleet-footed Peterson silly with a looping left hook late in the second. Only an inconveniently timed bell kept “The Machine” from finishing the job instantly, but he was undeterred come the third, scored two more knockdowns and forced a Steve Smoger stoppage at 2:14.
It was abrupt. It was decisive. It was violent.
And if you’re among those who pine for a challenger to spring from the weeds to push Mayweather beyond a $40 million sparring session, it was not a moment too soon.
In fact, with a speculated Floyd showdown against junior middle hotshot Canelo Alvarez best left to simmer until Cinco de Mayo 2014—and without another visible foe worthy of $70 fan outlay—the second fight in Mayweather’s six-fight contract could have shaped up as a late-summer pay-per-view train wreck.
But thanks to Matthysse, it has the chance to be a true September sizzler.
And with all due respect to the likable Garcia—who outlasted vet Zab Judah in an entertaining scrap just three weeks ago—the look on his face after witnessing Matthysse’s in-ring destruction of Peterson said all that was needed about what would happen should he and Matthysse ever actually meet.
Danny would try hard. His father would talk a lot. Someone would bleed.
And eventually, the preposterously hittable Philadelphian would wind up unconscious.
By skipping that interim step, the suits at Showtime and Golden Boy can spend the next four months properly building up Matthysse—whom Showtime blow-by-blow man Mauro Ranallo accurately said had “served notice that he is one of the biggest forces in boxing”—as a real threat to the Mayweather empire.
As much fun as the Garcia-Matthysse press conferences would be, the blather reaches another stratosphere with the addition of Floyd Sr. and Roger. And as compelling as a brawl for 140-pound dominance might be for as long as it lasted, imagine the Argentine’s irresistible force when contrasted with the shoulder roll that’s dominated the sport since the 1990s.
Call it puncher vs. stylist. Call it bull vs. matador. Call it offense vs. defense.
Regardless of how it’s labeled…coming out of Saturday night, it’s the only match worth making.