Lucas Matthysse drops Molina in potential Fight of the Year; Keith Thurman rolls to another stoppage win

April 27, 2014

Carson, Calif. -- In a brutal bout featuring multiple knockdowns, gushing blood, and wild exchanges, Lucas Matthysse overpowered gutsy John Molina to earn an 11th round knockout victory and steal the show from headliner Keith Thurman Saturday night at the StubHub Center.

Thurman was not too shabby in his own right, as the rising star impressively landed his power shots and avoided veteran Julio Diaz's counter punches en route to a third-round TKO win.

But it was Matthysse and Molina (27-4, 22 KOs) who made sure that the card lived up to its "Don't Blink" billing, as the two men engaged in a thrilling battle that certainly should garner 2014 Fight of the Year consideration.

Matthysse, from Argentina, started out cold on an unusually chilly Southern California evening, surviving two early knockdowns in the second and fifth rounds, but rallying late and imposing his will with his pressure and power punching.

The key for Matthysse was an effective straight left jab which set up his combinations and arrived ahead of Molina's looping shots.  Matthysse's straighter shots eventually broke Molina down, leading to knockdowns in the eighth and tenth rounds, and also the definitive knockout in Round 11.

“It was a war,’’ said Matthysse, who improved his record to 35-3 with 33 KOs. “And it got complicated for me at the beginning, but we trained for this and we got the knockout. He hit me in the back of the head (in the second) and I crumbled a bit but I was waiting to find my distance and I was able to finish a tough fight."

After the early knockdowns, the fight settled into somewhat of a pattern, with Matthysse jabbing Molina into the ropes and then unloading his big shots.  Molina, content to counter with his back on the ropes, would smile and unleash some bombs in return, but too often was squared up in a fundamentally poor stance.  As a result, he struggled to get proper leverage on his shots and failed to avoid Matthysse's blows.

The non-stop pressure and superior work rate of Matthysse caused Molina, a local Southern Californian, to wear down, as Matthysse outlanded him in the eighth through tenth rounds 135 to 40.

Matthysse, one of the best punchers in the 140-pound division if not the sport, also landed an astounding 60% of his power shots in the fight (204 of 340).

In an eighth round that could itself earn consideration for Round of the Year, Matthysse finally chopped down Molina, scoring his first knockdown of the night.  The bell rang before Matthysse could inflict further punishment, but from that point the momentum had clearly swung in his favor.

In the tenth round, Matthysse unleashed 14 consecutive unanswered shots on Molina, scoring his second knockdown.  Molina, badly damaged, came out for Round 11, but  could offer only token resistance as Matthysse knocked him out for win.

But as is often the case with fights of this quality, both participants emerged in a better position career-wise.  

Matthysse rebounded from his disappointing loss to Danny Garcia, and put himself in line for a Garcia rematch at 140 pounds.

“I want the rematch," said Matthysse.  "I feel that he had very good luck that night."

Meanwhile, Molina demonstrated a good chin and tremendous heart which should increase the public's demand to see him.

“I am very disappointed," said Molina.  "We gave the fans a good fight and I’m happy about that. I wasn’t well-known before this fight but I feel like I am now. I’m disappointed I didn’t finish Lucas. I had him hurt, but this is a learning experience. I only had a few amateur fights, so I’m learning from every experience."

Keith Thurman stops Julio Diaz

In the main event, Florida's Keith Thurman (23-0, 21 KOs) continued to improve by leaps and bounds, outclassing tough veteran Julio Diaz (40-10-1, 29 KOs) while demonstrating excellent athleticism, elusive defense, superior power, and good ring generalship.

“Everybody shoots for the Mayweather sweepstakes," said the loquacious Thurman.  "I am here to entertain, to dominate the welterweight division.  I love the sport of boxing.  I love knockouts.  I am going to keep giving them to you."

Thurman not only was the busier man and the faster fighter, but also was highly accurate with his shots. He displayed good lateral movement and repeatedly nailed Diaz with uppercuts and hooks.

In the second round, he dropped Diaz with a blow to the head, forcing him to take a knee.

In Round 3, the two engaged in a spirited exchange, with Diaz getting the worst of it.  Thurman landed a body shot, causing an injury to Diaz's ribs.  Diaz did not come out for the fourth.

“I felt the body shot (to Diaz)," said Thurman.  "I felt he was going to go down.  I wondered if I hadn’t landed it clean enough.  He’s a tough guy.  He showed up to fight.  You saw what he was doing in the ring.  His rib… he had eight more rounds to go so he did what he had to do.

Thurman also looked ahead to a potential future opponent who recently had an impressive performance as well.

“Shawn Porter is a terrific fighter," said Thurman.  "He’s a great friend of mine.  He’s a devastating boxer-puncher like myself.  Whenever they’re ready, I am ready."

Diaz, who has become a bit of a steppingstone fighter at this stage in his career, had no excuses.

“I got caught with a good body shot, in the rib,’’ he said. “I had trouble breathing.  After the punch, I couldn’t breathe.  I am human.  I got hurt.  The guy had some power.  But I am a two-time champion.  I have never quit in a fight.  I didn’t have anything to prove.   I took a knee to recuperate from a shot to the back of my head.  And the rib shot really got me.  I ain’t 18 years old anymore.  I wanted to give a war, but I had to know when it was my time.’’

News and Notes

  • Matthysse threw 573 total punches, landing 275 (48%).  He connected on 71 of 233 jabs (30%).  Molina landed 104 of 392 total shots (27%), including 86 of his 263 power shots.  He landed just 18 of 129 jabs (14%).
  • Keith Thurman landed 37 of his 78 power punches (47%).
  •  Charles Oakley, Chris Arreola, and Marcos Maidana were among the many athletes in attendance.  
  • Maidana spoke about his upcoming fight with Floyd Mayweather, stating, "I need to do the same thing that I did with (previously unbeaten Adrien) Broner.  I need to go out from the get-go and attack him. I know it will be more difficult with Floyd Mayweather but I am ready."
  • More Maidana: “There is no doubt that Floyd Mayweather has a great defense, but I have a great attack and that is what I will use."

By Mike Elliott
Editor for

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