Here’s the scoop, friends. Lucas Matthysse is in that place a lot of fighters find themselves eventually. He’s not old per say, but no one is going to say he’s in the prime of his career. He is that place where Sergey Kovalev and Gennady Golovkin among other notables find themselves. Their best is likely in the rear-view mirror, but they can still compete at a world class level.
Tewa Kiram is … well he’s as close to an unknown entity as you’re going to get on HBO. The 25-year-old is a veteran of 38 fights, all of which he’s won. I’m hardly the broker of knowledge in contemporary boxing, but scrolling through his BoxRec page, I did not find a single opponent whose name I knew. He’s knocked most of those guys out, but I don’t get the sense he’s a huge puncher at 147. He’s young enough that even in a loss, Kiram can probably assert himself as a player at 147 should he trouble Matthysse. The question is, will he?
Matthysse is fighting for the second time at 147 and, given his age, is probably hoping to set himself up for one more big money fight before time catches up with him. After his knockout loss to Viktor Postol, Matthysse did the right thing and took the time off to let his injuries heal and his body recover. He came back after a year off and proceeded to dismantle the tough Emmanuel Taylor, who had never been stopped before his loss to Matthysse. Sure, he’s no one’s idea of a pound-for-pounder, but it was an impressive showing in Matthysse’s first bout as a welterweight.
More important perhaps than the victory itself is that Matthysse’s power made the trip to 147 with him. There is one thing that will keep fans coming to watch him, and that is his penchant for destruction. He’s no common brawler, but the Argentinian can crack with anyone.
That power will be key in a fight with Kiram, who looks like more of a boxer than a puncher. He throws the jab a lot. Kiram succeeds with this tactic because he has one of those jabs that carries with it abnormal force. The limited film I’ve been able to watch on him suggests that his jab works more as a cattle prod than a riding crop. He sticks it right in your face, then does it again, always coming at you. This has been enough for him to beat everyone in Thailand, where he has a real following.
A great jab can be kryptonite to a big puncher, but Matthysse is to big punchers what aircraft carriers are to kayaks. He succeeds by applying more force than his opponents can apply, and therefore more than they can handle. You can only keep the monster off you for so long.
Once he is on you, it’s difficult to dissuade him from attacking. For better or worse, Matthysse only succeeds when coming forward. His last fight, with Emmanuel Taylor, showed the basic blueprint for what he wants to do. Lots of lead right hands shot over the jab, followed by vicious combinations whenever Taylor would get caught standing still. Matthysse hasn’t regressed to the point where you can stand in the pocket with him for any length of time.
The loss to Postol was officially recorded as a knockout, Matthysse unable to beat the count, but something else was happening there. Viktor Postol is a fabulous fighter, and an underrated puncher. His only loss is a unanimous decision to Terence Crawford, and that can hardly be held against him. Postol didn’t break Matthysse down with his power, he boxed him to death.
That is what Kiram is going to have to do against Matthysse. By all accounts, the kid can fight. My limited study of him tells me that the kid can fight. He likes to make action fights – always coming forward and pressing the action. He’s a big-time jabber, yes, but he can punch, too.
5 years ago, this would have been a no brainer pick. Matthysse would have knocked this guy out, because 5 years ago Matthysse specialized in skillfully applied violence. Now? It’s hard to say. If Matthysse wants to remain a player at 147, and potentially get a crack at one last big money fight soon, he’ll have to win and look good. If not now, then never.
I’m picking him to win by mid round stoppage. I know Kiram is being talked up – rightfully so, he’s looked good – but I see this as good matchmaking. Kiram is theoretically the perfect opponent for Matthysse with his come forward style. The Argentinian should be able to show Kiram his power, and have him start backing up. If he goes backwards, he will lose. However, if it turns out that a few miles have come off the fastball, then this could be a real showcase for the Thai fighter.
Barring a weird result, one of these guys will come out with better prospects than they had coming in. I suppose Kiram can return to his fans in Thailand and resume making good money beating up the local boys, so he’s set either way. The real pressure is on Matthysse to remind us all of his power.