If you're looking for the next bout that could become a candidate for Fight of the Year, look no further than the Lucas Matthysse (33-2, 31 KO) vs. Lamont "Havoc" Peterson (31-1-1, 16 KO) bout on Saturday night.
Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City is the location for what should be an epic battle between two of the best lightweights in the world.
Much is at stake in this bout as the winner will earn a shot at WBC champion Danny Garcia.
Both fighters are fan favorites who fight an action-packed style. This could be a war that precipitates a rematch after the winner goes on to face Garcia.
Who will emerge victorious in this all-important clash at 140 pounds? Here's how you can watch.
When: Saturday, May 18 9 p.m. CT
Where: Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J.
Streamed: Replay available the day after on Showtime Anytime (Pay Service)
The Book on Matthysse
The Man Almost No One Wants to Fight
The 30-year-old from Argentina is the type of fighter many big names will avoid at all cost. He is dangerous in the ring, and up to now he hasn't been widely known throughout the sport.
The risk/reward factor involved is enough to scare fighters with reputations to maintain away. Matthysse has done everything he needs to do to eliminate one aspect of that dynamic.
He just keeps winning.
By running through opponents, he has made himself impossible to ignore. An increasing amount of fans know just how great a fighter he has become, and even more, they love his action-packed approach in the ring.
Matthysse told Lem Satterfield of Ring Magazine:
“Winning on Saturday night in a big fashion will open some doors. I want the big fights against the big names and it all starts on Saturday night."
Just as Matthysse stalks and cuts off the ring in combat, he is cutting off the exits of the top fighters at 140 pounds. Now the path to supremacy at light welterweight goes through him.
In the Ring
You may look at the insanely high KO percentage (86.11) Matthysse has and dismiss him as a slugger. That would be inaccurate.
While he certainly has the power to readjust a fighter's face; Matthysse is an underrated boxer as well. He's patient, counter-punches well and employs more head movement than most action fighters.
His best asset could be his body punching. He wears opponents down and breaks their will with hard shots to the midsection. This guy is a handful to deal with.
He does have some issues with speedy fighters, though.
Both of his losses came to movers (Zab Judah and Devon Alexander). Though the decisions were controversial, Judah and Alexander were able to befuddle Matthysse enough to finish the fight and get the win.
The Book on Peterson
Never Afraid, Never Intimidated
Obviously, not everyone is avoiding Matthysse. Peterson told Tim Smith of Ring Magazine:
"When they said no one wants to fight him, that got under my skin. He’s in my weight class. I wanted to fight him to prove that there was someone out there that wants to fight him."
That's totally in line with Havoc's character. He is a grinding, tough fighter who seems to enjoy taking on major opponents.
Just as he isn't intimidated by Matthysse's reputation, he wasn't spooked by Amir Khan's talent and mystique.
He won the IBF and WBA titles by defeating Khan in Peterson's hometown of Washington, D.C, in Dec. 2010. Two point deductions caused Khan to lose the bout by split decision.
I scored the fight for Khan, but no one could dispute the heart and will Peterson showed throughout. He was stripped of the title after he tested positive for a banned substance prior to the rematch with Khan.
Adversity is nothing new for Peterson. He fought through meager beginnings that included poverty, neglect and homelessness.
It is no surprise Peterson has rebounded well from his struggles. He stopped Kendall Holt in February and that has set up this clash with Matthysse.
He knows this is a big challenge, but it's just the latest in a long line.
In the Ring
When looking at Peterson in the ring, nothing spectacular jumps out at you. He is a good puncher, but he doesn't have devastating power.
He's not exceptionally quick, but Havoc just keeps coming.
Sometimes it appears he has an endless amount of energy in reserve and his will to win is greater than his opponents. He stays in great condition and applies pressure nearly from bell to bell.
Peterson loves to take away his opponents' space to operate. While he's plastered to their chests, he smashes to the body and periodically fires power shots to the head.
Does he take shots in the process? Absolutely, but as he told Smith:
"You know you’re going to get hit during the fight. I don’t worry about anybody’s punching power until I get hit."
The major question for Peterson in this fight is: can he absorb the hits he's bound to take from Matthysse?
I love Peterson's heart, but it is hard to imagine his style being effective against Matthysse. Peterson is usually a second-half fighter, but Matthysse's body attack should even slow Peterson down.
Expect to see Matthysse win an exciting fight by late-round stoppage.
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