- Michael Woods, Boxing
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Olusegun Ajose hoped that his slickness edge would bring him to a win against bomber Lucas Matthysse on Saturday night at the Hard Rock in Las Vegas. But the Argentine was in seek-and-destroy mode from the first round, and the Nigerian-born NYC resident wasn't able to outbox the man with the heavier hands. With one second to go in the 10th round, the ref hopped in and saved Ajose from further punishment, giving Matthysse the W, via TKO.
Matthysse went 290-698, to 153-561 for the loser.
With the interim WBA 140-pound strap up for grabs, the 32-year-old Ajose looked to be deteriorating some under the pressure in the second and third rounds, but he regained his faculties and used his legs to get himself into safer zones later in the third. He ate lefts, up top and to the body, that made me cringe, and one thought maybe he'd decide to get on his bike and scoot. He didn't, not that often. Hey, it's easy to opine from the sideline; considering that Matthysse has pop with both hands, it's not easy to choose which direction to slide.
Ajose got buzzed in the fifth, but hung tough and looked to land sneaky counters. His energy didn't lag by the seventh, somewhat surprisingly, what with the bombs he had to endure. Matthysse proved he wasn't just a bomber; he slipped smartly, put on the earmuffs when he felt danger, but yeah, he mostly used the offense as his best defense. Ajose's power wasn't enough to dissuade, let alone buzz, the Argentine, making his job that much harder. A looping right discombobulated Ajose, with 1:06 to go in the tenth, but bless him, he stayed upright. Left hooks thudded on him, sounding like a baseball bat on a past-its-prime pumpkin. A clean right hurt him, and another clean right sent him down, for the first time in his career. The ref hopped in and stopped the bout with a second left in the 10th, though the loser was on his way to rising to his feet.
Let me amend that; "loser" is the wrong term, as all were left impressed with Ajose's heart and chin, and his stock didn't drop. In fact, his rep was bolstered because of his ballsy showing.
Matthysse, 29, went to 32-2, while Ajose, promoted by New Yorker Lou DiBella, slipped to 30-1.