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ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- "The Machine" Lucas Matthysse just continues to grind up and spit out opponents in frightening fashion. Anyone who didn't believe in him before must by now.
His latest victim was Lamont Peterson, whom he blew away in shockingly easy fashion in the third round Saturday night at Boardwalk Hall.
Peterson holds a junior welterweight world title, and Matthysse has another organization's interim title, but because Matthysse didn't want to give up his interim belt to fight for Peterson's -- and a unification wasn't allowed -- they met in a nontitle bout at a maximum weight of 141 pounds, one more than the junior welterweight limit.
Whatever the weight and regardless of the lack of titles at stake, Matthysse was sensational in front of a sparse crowd of 4,215. He was reminiscent of a younger Manny Pacquiao, when he was, well, a knockout machine.
Matthysse, the power hitter from Argentina, walked through Peterson to knock him down three times, sending some of the arena's Argentine fans into a raucous celebration.
"Now we all know who the best 140-pound fighter is," Matthysse said through a translator. "No one has dominated Peterson like that."
Matthysse won his sixth consecutive fight by knockout and has scored knockouts in his past 11 victories, even though during that stretch he lost a pair of controversial split decisions to former titleholders in their home regions, Zab Judah in Newark, N.J., and Devon Alexander in St. Louis.
Included in his recent run are a nine-knockdown performance in an eighth-round destruction of former titlist DeMarcus "Chop Chop" Corley; handing Olusegun Ajose, who had been 30-0, his first loss, a 10th-round knockout; a fifth-round destruction of former lightweight titlist Humberto Soto; and a first-round smashing of Mike Dallas in January.
|After Lucas Matthysse dropped Lamont Peterson for the third time Saturday in Atlantic City, N.J., referee Steve Smoger had seen enough and called a stop to the fight.|
Against Peterson, Matthysse turned in yet another devastating performance.
"We have a new Manny Pacquiao. He's from Argentina, and his name is Lucas Matthysse," Golden Boy promoter Richard Schaefer said. "What he just did, he did at the highest level of the sport. Nobody has ever done that to Lamont Peterson. I am speechless."
Matthysse, who earned a career-high $700,000, showed no ill effects after his travel nightmare from Argentina. His home was broken into last week and his passport defaced to the point that he couldn't use it. His team worked quickly to get him a new one, but instead of arriving stateside Tuesday morning, he missed the final news conference and didn't get here until Thursday.
However, he obviously put all that out of his mind as he let his punches fly. After Matthysse and Peterson felt each other out in the first round, Matthysse started doing damage in the second.
He landed a solid right hand that drove Peterson back toward the ropes, and a moment later, Matthysse crushed him with a clean left hook on the temple. Peterson went down on a delayed reaction and was in trouble, although he made it out of the round.
"In the first round, I was feeling him out, and by the second round, I started connecting," Matthysse said. "I was working the distance, but once I dropped him, I knew he could tell how strong I was.
"I got a lot of experience with the two losses, to Zab Judah and Devon Alexander, and now I know I have to win by knockout."
In the third round, Peterson got in some shots, but Matthysse kept marching forward, eventually landing another tremendous left hook before Peterson could connect with the one he was throwing himself. Peterson went down again in the middle of the ring and rolled over before getting up. He was in serious trouble, and referee Steve Smoger said afterward that he considered stopping the fight then.
But Peterson (31-2-1, 16 KOs), 29, who made a career-high $800,000, responded to Smoger's direction, and the ref allowed the fight to continue. Matthysse went right to Peterson and landed another left hook that dropped him for the third time. Smoger then called off the fight at 2 minutes, 14 seconds.
"I feel good, but I'm a little upset that I lost, but I feel good," said Peterson, who can take solace in the fact that he still holds his belt. "I got a little lazy with my jab in there. He hit me in the back of my head. I kept telling the ref he hit me in the back of my head.
"I felt as if I could have kept going, but he hit me with some good shots. But tonight I guess he was the better fighter."
The fight was only Peterson's second since he won his title by controversial split decision against Amir Khan in December 2011. That's because he tested positive for elevated testosterone levels in a random test before the rematch with Khan was supposed to take place in May 2012.
Peterson returned from the layoff in February by knocking out mandatory challenger (and former titlist) Kendall Holt in the eighth round and then surprised many when he immediately said he wanted to fight Matthysse next. That turned out to be a big mistake.
Next for the 30-year-old Matthysse (34-2, 32 KOs) is a probable fight with unified titleholder Danny Garcia, the opponent he wanted to fight even more than facing Peterson.
"I'll fight him if that's what Golden Boy and [newly signed adviser] Al Haymon want," Matthysse said.
Said Schaefer: "Words can't describe how good this guy is, how hungry he is, how exciting he is. Now let's see him and Danny Garcia. I was told before the Peterson fight that [Garcia] would take it, and that's the fight I want to make."
Garcia, who was ringside, retained his titles April 27 with a hard-fought decision win against former three-time titleholder Judah. When that fight and the Matthysse-Peterson bout were both made, the plan all along was to match the winners in the fall.
Schaefer said he has Sept. 7 on hold at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., for the fight. He said he hopes to match Peterson, who is from Washington, with New York's Judah in the co-feature in something of a consolation match in the unofficial tournament to crown a junior welterweight king.
"Danny is the kind of fighter people bet against, but every time, he steps up to the plate and delivers, and delivers big," Schaefer said. "Nobody should count out Danny Garcia, but this guy [Matthysse] is one of the best and most exciting fighters in the sport. What he did to Lamont was incredible.
"It's coming to the point where you don't question if he's going to knock his opponent out, you only question when."