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What the Differences Between Adrien Broner and Lucas Matthysse Say About Boxing

Kelsey McCarsonFeatured ColumnistOctober 6, 2015

Broner nabbed his fourth title in as many weight classes.
Broner nabbed his fourth title in as many weight classes.Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Last weekend, we saw everything the sport of boxing ultimately boils down to these days in two distinctly different promotions.

Over on Showtime, Adrien Broner easily dispatched of Khabib Allakhverdiev to capture the vacant WBA 140-pound title belt. On HBO, Lucas Matthysse was stopped by lanky boxer Viktor Postol for the vacant WBC version of the same weight class.

Broner and Matthysse represent the dichotomy of today’s boxing world.

On one hand, we have the enigmatic Broner.

Against Allakhverdiev, the talented and boisterous star earned his fourth title belt in as many weight classes. That’s nothing anyone should scoff about. Even with the proliferation of alphabet belts in today’s boxing world, a fighter can’t really win that many titles without being at least a very good fighter.

Broner somehow received a WBA title shot coming off a loss.
Broner somehow received a WBA title shot coming off a loss.Dylan Buell/Getty Images

And Broner is a very good fighter. He has fast hands and feet. He’s athletic, quick-fisted and is an accurate puncher when he wants to be. In fact, if one were only to consider raw physical tools, the 26-year-old would probably be on the short list of those who might someday replace the recently retired Floyd Mayweather as boxing’s biggest star.

But Broner will never be like Mayweather, because no matter how much he tries to mimic him on fight night, he hasn’t shown the tenacity or temerity to do what Mayweather had to do outside the ring all his life to make the most of his potential.

Mayweather is the consummate professional when it comes to fight preparations. Broner, by his own admission, is not.

Like Broner, Matthysse is a very good fighter, too. The 33-year-old is probably closer to the end of his career than Broner, but the two are similar in contendership status within the junior welterweight division.

Both are top talents.

Matthysse was in tough against Postol.
Matthysse was in tough against Postol.Jeff Gross/Getty Images

But Matthysse isn’t as athletically gifted as Broner. He doesn’t have the foot speed or the fast hands. He also doesn’t appear to have the same kind of athletic ability, the kind that probably allows Broner to succeed in just about whatever sport he chooses.

And, of course, Matthysse lost his fight on Saturday night.

But while his opponent, Postol, was unknown by all but the most hardcore fight observers, the matchup was pretty even going into the fight. Matthysse had struggled in the past with good boxers like Postol, and the taller man’s physical attributes were not going to make things any easier.

Matthysse took the fight anyway.

Here’s what I see when I look at Broner and Matthysse. I see two fighters who are about the same level, for one reason or another, when it comes to fight night. Neither man could be considered great at boxing. Neither is elite. But both are good and capable fighters who deservedly land spotlight gigs on boxing’s two premier cable destinations: Showtime and HBO.

The supremely talented Broner has won four title belts now. He’s been a world champion at junior lightweight, lightweight, junior welterweight and welterweight, too.

He should be proud of that.

On the other hand, Matthysse has won zero title belts, failing in his second such bid over the weekend by Round 10 knockout.

He should be even more proud.

There is a large segment of the boxing world that would disagree with me. They’d argue Broner’s alphabet bouts and move up in weight classes prove the point quite convincingly.

But those people are wrong.

Matthysse has maximized his potential. Has Broner?
Matthysse has maximized his potential. Has Broner?Alex Menendez/Getty Images

Matthysse might not have the title belts, but he absolutely has the better resume. He’s taken the tougher fights, plied his trade with integrity and didn’t go about his boxing career as if the object of the game were to take as few risks as humanly possible.

Matthysse’s losses to Postol and Danny Garcia are nothing to be ashamed about. Those fighters were just better. He lost two close decisions to Zab Judah and Devon Alexander. Both could have rightly been scored his way.

And his wins over Ruslan Provodnikov and Lamont Peterson are better than any of Broner’s so-called title belt wins, too.

There are two schools of thought in boxing. One says fighters should be managed carefully, given a myriad of advantages in every single situation and matched with lower-tier opponents for vacant belts to rig the game in their favor.

I'll take Matthysse's quality losses over Broner's best wins.
I'll take Matthysse's quality losses over Broner's best wins.Harry How/Getty Images

The other school says fighters should consistently try to face and defeat the best competition available. Matthysse does this. Broner never has.

Someone reading the fight results this week might tell his buddy that Broner was the only one of the two junior welterweights over the weekend who could be called a winner.

But it’s hard for me to call someone who took an easy and contrived title belt win over a hapless opponent as a springboard to calling out, per Bad Left Hook, 35-year-old no-hoper Ashley Theophane a winner. And it's equally hard to describe Matthysse, coming off a close decision win over Provodnikov in what might ultimately be awarded Fight of the Year, a loser for taking on one tough challenger after another.

At least to me, boxing should never be about wins and title belts. It should be about the fights. No matter their records at the end of things, Matthysse took the tougher ones.                                                         

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