Lucas Matthysse vs. John Molina: Preview and Prediction for Upcoming Bout

Briggs SeekinsFeatured ColumnistApril 22, 2014

Lucas Matthysse vs. John Molina: Preview and Prediction for Upcoming Bout

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    Mark J. Terrill

    On Saturday, in Carson, Calif., one of the most exciting fighters in the sport, Lucas Matthysse, looks to get back in the win column after losing to light welterweight champion Danny Garcia last September. His opponent will be former lightweight title challenger John Molina.

    Few fans have electrified the crowds the way Matthysse has over the past three years. Prior to losing to Garcia, the tough Argentinian had knocked out six straight.

    Molina is a longtime contender at 135 who can elevate his career to the next level with an upset win. Matthysse fights have always been exciting. Expect nothing to change Saturday.

Tale of the Tape

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    Julie Jacobson
    Per Boxrec      Lucas Matthysse      John Molina 
    Record:     34-3, 32 KOs      27-3, 22 KOs
    Height:     5'6.5"      5'10.5" 
    Reach:      69"     72" 
    Weight:     140 lbs      140 lbs
    Age:      31     31 
    Stance:     Orthodox      Orthodox 
    Hometown:      Buenos Aires, Argentina      Covina, Calif. 
    Rounds:      141      117 

    Molina was a very large lightweight and even as he moves up to 140 here, he will remain the much longer fighter against Matthysse. He'll need to figure out how to use that reach advantage to keep the relentless Matthysse at bay. 

    Molina has had very good power at 135, but Matthysse is a knockout machine. Although Matthysse is the far bigger star, both men are 31 and at similar points in their careers, needing a win to stay relevant for big fights.  

Main Storylines

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Since losing his first professional fight by controversial split decision to Zab Judah in 2010, Matthysse has developed into one of the most popular fighters in the world. He lost another, even more controversial, split decision to Devon Alexander in 2011 but then won six straight fights by stoppage, highlighted by a brutal Round 3 TKO of IBF light welterweight champion Lamont Peterson in May 2013.

    Heading into his showdown with WBC and WBA 140-pound champion Danny Garcia last September, a lot of fans considered Matthysse to be a still undefeated fighter. Garcia clearly outboxed Matthysse, closing his right eye and earning a unanimous-decision victory, but even in defeat, Matthysse made a tough stand.

    Matthysse remains one of the biggest stars in the welterweight neighborhood and a typical performance by him on Saturday against Molina will have his name right back on everybody's lips. With a couple of good wins, a rematch against Garcia would make sense.  

    Molina was a credible contender at lightweight, even handing Hank Lundy and Mickey Bey their first professional losses. But his world-title shot against Antonio DeMarco in September 2012 was disastrous. The champion caught Molina with a big left hand early in the first round, and he was unable to recover, succumbing to TKO just 44 seconds into the fight.

    If you are a fighter who is vulnerable to getting caught and swarmed in the early going, "The Machine" Matthysse is a very dangerous opponent. Molina is definitely not a bum, but there's a chance this fight could provide Matthysse the opportunity to look very dominant in his return to action.

Strengths

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    Matthysse is a brilliant offensive fighter. He throws crisp, explosive combinations and has fight-changing power in both hands. He excels at cutting off the ring.

    Matthysse is a ring assassin who is almost always moving into position for his next big shot, even as the first one is rattling his opponent's skull. He can break an opponent down over the course of multiple rounds, but he can also overwhelm them in a violent barrage and finish them quickly.

     

    Molina has always had very good power at lightweight, and with his long frame, there's no reason to expect him to lose it suddenly just because he's moving up five pounds. He is a tough fighter who stays calm, blocks punches and fires back in the space between his opponent's attack.

    Molina has very good reach, which is always an advantage in boxing. It allows a puncher like Molina the opportunity to get off first, before his opponent can get into range.

Weaknesses

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    Matthysse is like many dangerous offensive fighters in that he spends a lot of time in positions where he can be hit back. He's aggressive and at times can over-commit with his movement, leaving him in a bad position for counters.

    Matthysse had built up an air of being indestructibility heading into his fight last fall with Garcia, but the champ popped that in a hurry. It's always interesting to see how a powerful offensive fighter responds to that experience.

     

    Molina has a habit of covering up, picking off punches and then firing back in return. That's not necessarily a sound strategy against an explosive monster such as Matthysse. Camping behind your guard against a guy with Matthysse's skill set can get you overwhelmed in a hurry.

    Against DeMarco in 2012, Molina left a big, wide hole in the middle of his guard and got tagged by a straight punch, right down the middle. Once he was rocked by the punch, he seemed to panic and forget how to respond.

Lucas Matthysse Will Win If...

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    Matthysse should come out aggressively in the opening seconds of the first round of this fight. He should lower his level while crossing into range against the taller Molina, then pop up on the inside, launching bombs.

    Molina likes to fight in a relaxed rhythm, blocking punches and then firing back with his own big shots. Matthysse's style should be able to disrupt this thoroughly. Matthysse should look to be repositioning as Molina covers up. He should attack, shift his angle and then re-attack before Molina even has the chance to get off in return.

    Molina has decent power, and Matthysse is going to have to show him some respect. The Argentinian gunslinger can't just walk right through a hail of bullets and expect to escape unscathed.

    But by attacking relentlessly and intelligently from a continually shifting angles, Matthysse should be able to limit how much Molina is even able to throw.

John Molina Will Win If...

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    USA TODAY Sports

    For Molina to have a shot in this fight, he's going to need to be better in a number of areas than he was against DeMarco in 2012. Molina has great reach, but he's never really been one to box on the outside, and his jab tends to be a flicking range finder, not a piston designed to keep an opponent outside.

    Against the shorter, more explosive Matthysse, I think Molina is going to need to use a real, scoring jab and good movement to slow Matthysse's assault. Matthysse is a great offensive fighter, though, and he's going to find a way to move into range. When he comes, Molina should be waiting for him with an uppercut.

    When he fought DeMarco, Molina had his guard spread extremely wide, which made it very easy for DeMarco to launch a blistering left straight down the middle. Once he was hurt, Molina reacted terribly, freezing up and allowing himself to be battered against the ropes.

    To have a shot against Matthysse, Molina is going to need to tighten up his defense and use his jab to dictate the pace of the fight. If he simply sits back behind his guard, looking to cover and return, he will get swarmed.

Prediction

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

    I think Molina is a better fighter than he showed against DeMarco in 2012. He got caught quickly in that fight and was then driven into a terrible position against the ropes.

    But he still looks to me like a guy who should make Matthysse look very good in his first fight back since losing to Garcia. I don't think Molina has the movement or the jab to keep a buzz saw such as Matthysse away from him.

    I think Molina will get hurt but will escape danger early. But I don't think he will escape danger for long. I'm picking Matthysse by Round 4 TKO.

    Despite already losing to Garcia, Matthysse remains among the top fighters in the light welterweight division. He's managed by Al Haymon and as long as he can keep winning exciting fights, he'll find himself back in another world title fight before long.