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Mayweather vs. Canelo Undercard: Preview and Prediction for Garcia vs. Matthysse

Lyle FitzsimmonsFeatured ColumnistNovember 18, 2016

Mayweather vs. Canelo Undercard: Preview and Prediction for Garcia vs. Matthysse

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    There’s a big main event at the MGM Grand this weekend in Las Vegas, but the addition of the final undercard bout—pitting Danny Garcia against Lucas Matthysse for Garcia’s WBA and WBC titles at 140 pounds—gave the promotion a significant jolt after the initial hype had slowed.

    The fight is the third of four being shown domestically on the Showtime pay-per-view broadcast, and the card is also available from providers in South America, Europe and Australia, according to BoxRec.com.

Tale of the Tape

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    Per BoxRecDanny GarciaLucas Matthysse
    Record:                                     26-0, 16 KOs34-2, 32 KOs
    Height:5'8-1/2"5'6-1/2"
    Reach:68-1/2"69"
    Weight:140 lbs140 lbs
    Age:2530
    Stance:OrthodoxOrthodox
    Hometown:Philadelphia, Pa. Buenos Aires, Argentina
    Rounds:140129

     

    Garcia is five years younger and has had 10 fewer fights.

    Still, thanks to Matthysse’s frequent lean toward finishing his business early, the Philadelphian is 11 rounds his Argentine’s senior over the course of his pro career.

    In terms of big-event experience, the incumbent WBA/WBC champ has spent more time in a wider spotlight, but Matthysse became the hot new commodity at 140 pounds when he demolished IBF titleholder Lamont Peterson over three rounds in an over-the-weight match in May.

Main Storylines

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    Garcia has been one of Golden Boy Promotions’ top young attractions for the past several years, and he finally became a member of the belted class when he outpointed veteran Erik Morales for the WBC title in March 2012, four days after turning 25.

    He cemented his place among the star set for the remainder of the year, stringing together an upset KO of popular Englishman Amir Khan and a whistling left hook that effectively ended Morales’ career in the fourth round of a rematch in October.

    One fight since has yielded another defeat of another respected veteran, this time a unanimous 12-round nod over Zab Judah in a fight that Garcia dominated early and survived late. Also a permanent part of the Garcia experience is the chatter created by his outspoken father, Angel.

    Matthysse, meanwhile, is a commodity the mainstream boxing public got to know about later, but now its collective passion for him runs at a fever pitch. He’s a throwback among the 140-pounders and has tapped into the fans’ desire to see a guy who makes no bones about going in seeking knockouts—and then goes ahead and does it.

    Only two of 34 foes he’s defeated have seen the final bell, and the two men who’ve beaten him, current and former world champions Devon Alexander and Judah, only did so by narrow—and controversial—split decisions after having to climb off the canvas themselves.

    Garcia was ringside for the Matthysse fight with Peterson, and when cameras isolated him after the fight was waved off in the third round, the consensus was that he looked a tad intimated by what he’d just seen. By Saturday night, he’ll have to shake free of whatever tension the dominant display caused and execute a plan to handle the Argentine slugger firsthand.

Strengths

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    Garcia has been both active and successful in the past 18 months while meeting several top-shelf fighters, so he’s not likely to be intimidated by the spectacle of Saturday night.

    As a fighter, while he shows some remnants of technical acumen, his bread and butter is his toughness and the one-shot power he carries—especially in the left hooks that walloped both Khan and Morales.

    He also showed the mettle to last the full 12 rounds when the KO doesn’t come, though Judah was surging and Garcia not so as their fight ended in March.

    Matthysse knows one direction and one gear—forward and full speed ahead. He’s been able to get opponents out with single devastating shots, or if they don’t fall down right away, he’s shown no aversion to pounding them into a longer-term submission.

    The only foes who’ve truly pushed him—Alexander and Judah—have been the ones who could avoid his shots more often than not. That’s not as likely to be the case with Garcia, who often takes a fair amount of punishment in order to land concussive shots of his own.

    Unless he develops a new style by the weekend, Garcia’s ability to stand up to Matthysse’s shots will likely determine whether his reign goes past Saturday.

Weaknesses

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    While he has shown the ability to work from the outside on occasion, Garcia’s will never be confused with the athletic mastery Ray Leonard or the defensive wizardry of Wilfred Benitez.

    His bravery and willing to mix things up may be his most dangerous flaw against Matthysse, who typically doesn’t allow his opponents to last if they maintain a take-two-to-give-one approach.

    Meanwhile, as with any fighter who steamrolls second-tier opponents, the mystery is what Matthysse will do when faced with a high-end champion. He was foiled stylistically in the first round against Peterson but quickly got to his target nonetheless.

    If the rugged Garcia can handle the punishment through the first handful of rounds while firing back himself, we may see Matthysse forced to answer questions he hasn’t often been asked as a pro. And the reality as well is that he’s not taken shots from a puncher on Garcia’s level.

Danny Garcia Will Win If...

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    Garcia can go about this one of two ways.

    Either he can utilize the technical skill that he’s only periodically been forced to draw upon and outbox Matthysse, or in a more likely scenario, he can win a firefight.

    Initiating and finishing exchanges and exploiting the offensive holes that the defensively unknown Matthysse will surely present is a pathway to success, if it presents itself.

    That said, as much as he might want to keep his distance, the fight will more than likely turn into a battle of weaponry and wills before too long.

Lucas Matthysse Will Win If...

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    Though Matthysse is taking a step up in class by facing Garcia, don’t expect much of a deviation from the way he typically goes about things.

    Frequent thudding shots are the order of the day, to the body, to the chin on the arms. In fact, on any portion of Garcia’s torso that presents itself within range.

    In the end, and as simplistic as it sounds, it’s either going to be enough or it’s not.

Prediction

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    Matthysse is a phenomenon.

    His KO of Peterson was as thorough a beating of a sound reigning champion as there’s been at 140 pounds lately, and with only one more round scored in his favor on one card in fights against Alexander and Judah, he’d be unbeaten at 36-0.

    He’s been installed as a -270 favorite to beat Garcia, per Bovada, mainly because he thrives at exactly the sort of fight the reigning WBA/WBC champion is most likely to give him—a battle of sluggers.

    But there’s something about Garcia that makes me think he’s not quite so ready to be written off. I think he’ll land some shots of his own that’ll dissuade Matthysse from full-scale assault, and he’ll be able to do so long enough to get into the middle and later rounds.

    By the time it’s over, he’ll have won seven or eight of them, enough for a surprising decision.

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