While Floyd Mayweather and Saul Canelo Alvarez will command most of the attention on the night of September 14th, genuine boxing fans will recognise that the Mayweather-Alvarez is only a co-headliner. Before we get treated to the Junior Middleweight title clash we will get the opportunity to witness one of the most important fights in boxing today. With the winner of the Garcia – Matthysse, we will get three things, clarity on who the best fighter in the 140lb division is, a new entrant on the pound for pound list and a front runner to face Floyd Mayweather in May or September of 2014.
I think it best to disclose my bias early. Danny Garcia is one of my favourite fighters for reasons to be stated below. I want nothing more for him than a devastating victory for him on September 14th, but facts are facts. Just lasting long enough to hear the final bell on September 14th would be something of an achievement for Danny Garcia in the eyes of most boxing fans. Below is an objective breakdown of the fight based on the abilities displayed by both men.
Danny Garcia is one of the most overlooked current champions. He gets little credit for stringing together the impressive series of wins he has against live opponents. The myth that he relies solely on his left hook to turn around fights he would otherwise lose is a favourite of his detractors but lets cut the BS for a moment. Danny Garcia is a fundamentally sound fighter who boasts incredible timing and has a lot of heart. He gets knockout victories because of the combination of his skill, speed, power and most importantly timing. Besides those attributes he has shown himself to have a strong chin and the mental strength to push on in fights, even if they aren’t going exactly as planned. Add all that to the fact that he is a proud fighter boasting an unbeaten record and you come to the conclusion that he will not be giving anything away on September 14th. Whatever Lucas Matthysse gets on that night he will have to earn.
Devastating punchers always seem to excite fans more than other kinds of fighters and Lucas Matthysse just might be the most devastating of them all. More impressive than his 32 knockout victories is the fact that in his fights against opponents who have operated at or near world level (Judah, Corley, Alexander, Soto and Peterson) he has scored 15 knockdowns. It is the knockdowns/outs at this level of competition and above that define punchers….and Lucas Matthysse is a big puncher.
Unlike most big punchers Lucas Matthysse is actually a pretty impressive boxer. He shows patience when he needs to, but also has the killer instinct to disregard danger and go for the kill. His timing, chin, balance and technique is good, as is his defence…which aren’t things you would normally say about a noted puncher. Matthysse is much more than a wild slugger….he would enter this fight with a decent chance even if he didn’t pack the power he does.
Why This Is A Bad Style Match Up For Garcia
Danny Garcia is a good fighter, however that isn’t always enough. Danny Garcia is the kind of fighter that wins big fights 116-112/115-113 or a similar margin (if he can’t knock the opponent out). His opponents are always in the fight i.e. they win rounds and get their fair share of power punches in. In other words, he takes some to give some, but often that equation works in his favour because of his superior power/skill. In this fight those advantages are minimal if not non-existent. Matthysse is too good, dangerous and determined to let this fight go by without having ‘his moments’….and thus far in his career, he has turned many a ‘moment’ into a KO victory.
Also, Danny Garcia has favoured a counter punching style which sees him plant his feet in the middle of the ring and fire off quick powerful, well timed counter shots. It’s success is both a gift and a curse. It allows him to catch opponents with powerful punches at the very moment that defence is the furthest thing from their mind, scoring him heavy knockdowns/outs, but it has it’s flaws. This flat footed style will mean that:
- Matthysse has a static target. Static targets are generally easier to hit, and Matthysse is only ever well-landed punch away from a knock out. Danny Garcia’s reflexes/defensive skills are not good enough for him to fight that way and get through big fights unscathed. His championship level fights so far tell that story.
- Good defensive footwork cuts opponents’ workrate. Because Danny Garcia doesn’t use much of the ring (and has so-so defence) his opponents are often able to maintain a healthy work-rate. He can be outworked and overwhelmed by volume punchers. Matthysse is well capable of fighting in that style.
- Matthysse will remain a threat until the final bell. Energy he might have spent tracking down an elusive opponent will be saved, meaning he can preserve energy and stay dangerous for longer
- A skilled fighter (and Matthysse is one) has the ability to adapt to avoid counter shots.
Why Danny Has A Very Good Chance
All things considered, Danny Garcia is probably the better overall fighter. His boxing skill, heart and chin are massively underrated. A final amateur record of 107-13 and his 26 fights unbeaten at pro level tell us that he is not to be overlooked. Somehow, even when the odds seem against him, Danny always finds a way to win, and coming into a must-win fight, this ability to rescue fights could take centre stage. Also, on Saturday night, Danny will be the faster fighter and the one most capable of making sharp adjustments to his game plan to secure victory.
Yes, Lucas Matthysse is a feared puncher…but the two losses on his record tell their own story. Zab Judah & Devon Alexander were able to box Matthysse to narrow decision victories even after suffering knock downs. The rounds are there to be won against Matthysse. If a fighter can endure enough to see the final bell against Matthysse, they are always in with a fair chance of scoring a decision victory. If Garcia settles into the fight, he can use his superior skill to outland The Machine and grab many of the early and middle rounds. If he can do this, and weather the inevitable late storm that would come from Matthysee he can beat the odds and become a superstar in the sport.
It comes down to this.
To defeat Lucas Matthysse, Danny Garcia needs to fight a near perfect fight, something he hasn’t done in his big fights so far. He is a good fighter, but he has not shown that he has the kind of ability that could see him shut a world level fighter out. Garcia’s power could change the fight in two interesting ways 1. He could score a knock out victory or 2. The power in his counter punches may force Matthysse to be more considered in his attack, making it more of a boxing match…and more of the kind of fight that would favor Garcia. If neither of these two things happen, then I predict that Matthysse will hurt Garcia and stop him. At the same it won’t be wholly surprising to see the fight go the distance.
To avoid seeming ‘on the fence’ I’m going to predict that Matthysse defeats a game Danny Garcia by knockout.