Peterson, Matthysse set to meet
Not too many top fighters have been jumping at the opportunity to face Lucas Matthysse, the big puncher from Argentina, who has been gaining the reputation as boxing's most avoided fighter.
So it was a surprise to many when junior welterweight titlist Lamont Peterson, moments after knocking out Kendall Holt in the eighth round to retain his belt last month, named Matthysse, who holds an interim 140-pound belt, as one of the opponents he most wanted to fight.
Rafael's Boxing Blog
Get the latest scoop and analysis on the world of boxing from ESPN.com's Dan Rafael in his blog.
That was Feb. 22. On Friday, the two sides agreed to face each other, Golden Boy Promotions chief executive Richard Schaefer told ESPN.com. They will meet May 18 in the main event of a Showtime-televised card at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J.
"Lamont called him out, so it shows you how confident he and (trainer/manager) Barry Hunter are," Schaefer said. "Lamont had no problem fighting Matthysse, and right there in the ring after his last fight, he called him out. Lamont Peterson and Lucas Matthysse will fight anyone. Matthysse wanted to fight (unified titleholder) Danny Garcia, but he is busy with the fight with Zab Judah (on April 27), so we asked him about fighting Peterson. Matthysse said, 'Line him up.'
"For Peterson to have a victory against one of the most avoided guys in boxing, that would be big and definitely make a big statement. The same goes for Lucas Matthysse. He's been waiting for an opportunity to show he is ready to take on and win against an opponent like Lamont Peterson."
Schaefer said details of the agreement now will go into a full contract, but he said he has written confirmation from both sides that they have accepted the terms of the bout.
Schaefer hopes the winners of Peterson-Matthysse and Garcia-Judah will meet in a fall unification fight, with the winner of that bout then to face Amir Khan in what would amount to an unofficial tournament.
Previously set for the card is the rescheduled co-feature between welterweight titlist Devon Alexander (24-1, 13 KOs) of St. Louis and mandatory challenger Kell Brook (29-0, 19 KOs) of England. Alexander-Brook was originally supposed to take place Jan. 19 in Los Angeles, but when Brook injured his ankle in mid-December, the fight was postponed until Feb. 23. Then it was postponed again when Alexander suffered a right biceps injury.
"With Peterson and Matthysse and Alexander-Brook, this is championship boxing at the highest level," Schaefer said. "You have two great matchups in two of the hottest weight classes, and if you asked 10 experts to pick the winners, you'd probably have half pick one guy and the other half pick the other guy."
Schaefer said the third fight he is working on for the card -- which might be part of the Showtime telecast or could be on Showtime Extreme's coverage of the preliminary bouts -- is a welterweight bout between unbeaten up-and-comers Shawn Porter (20-0-1, 14 KOs) and Phil LoGreco (25-0, 14 KOs) of Canada.
In addition, Schaefer said 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Anthony Ogogo, a middleweight who makes his pro debut April 27 on the Khan-Julio Diaz undercard in his native England, would fight his second pro bout on the card.
Getting Peterson-Matthysse done came down to the site, Schaefer said. While Matthysse (33-2, 31 KOs), 30, was interested in fighting Peterson, Mario Arano, Matthysse's co-promoter from Argentina, did not want to have the bout in Peterson's hometown of Washington, D.C., which is where Peterson (31-1-1, 16 KOs), 29, and Hunter wanted the fight.
Matthysse's only two losses came to Alexander and Judah on split decisions in their hometowns, and Arano wanted a neutral site.
"Matthysse's first choice was somewhere in Southern California," Schaefer said. "As much as I can appreciate that, the fight belongs on the East Coast with Peterson being from Washington, D.C., so the site was a stumbling block. Mario really didn't want to go again into an opponent's hometown. It was like a psychological thing. Matthysse feels like he did enough to beat Devon and Zab and got the short end of the stick.
"I brought up Atlantic City, which is pretty close to Washington, D.C., and was able to convince Mario that this is neutral territory and I was able to convince Barry also to get out of Washington but go to a place not too far away so Lamont's fans can come to the fight. Ultimately, they agreed (Thursday) night, and now I think you have one of the best fights you can make in the sport."
Peterson, who will be making his second title defense, won it by highly controversial split decision against Khan in Washington in December 2011. However, Peterson tested positive for synthetic testosterone shortly before the May rematch, and that fight was canceled. Peterson did not fight again until facing Holt last month.
Matthysse has won five fights in a row -- all by knockout -- since the split-decision loss to Alexander in June 2011. Matthysse won a vacant interim belt in September via 10th-round knockout of Olusegun Ajose and then smashed Mike Dallas in the first round of his first defense Jan. 26.
MORE BOXING HEADLINES
- Stieglitz, Abraham to fight in March for 3rd time
- Burns-Crawford purse bid off as sides agree
- Malignaggi wins unanimous decision vs. Judah
- Rigondeaux decisions Agbeko to keep belts