(Danny Garcia, right, Lucas Matthysse, left; credit: Tom Casino, Showtime)
Few expected Danny Garcia to sign a fight with Lucas Matthysse, one of the hardest punchers in all of boxing. Fewer expected him to win. But Saturday on Showtime pay-per-view, on the undercard of Floyd Mayweather-Canelo Alvarez, Garcia defused Matthysse completely, taking a unanimous decision and becoming the undisputed champion of the junior welterweight division.
A big difference-maker came in the 7th, when Matthysse’s right eye began swelling shut. But it was close even through six, and that had something to do with Garcia’s intelligent boxing. Matthysse couldn’t or wouldn’t throw punches in the volume and with the commitment he needed to in order to score one of his trademark knockouts. Garcia’s clever counterpunching, savvy defense and ability to absorb what punches Matthysse did land were extremely impressive.
The 11th round was another pivotal moment. Matthysse came out hard, finally landing the kind of shots he needed to after getting pasted by Garcia left hooks on his nearly closed eye, only for Garcia to turn him, trap him on the ropes and deliver a flurry that deposited Matthysse on his butt.
Garcia’s chances depended in his intelligence and toughness. He demonstrated both in boatloads, with the 11th a monument to both that served as a clear demonstration that Garcia would figure out a way to do what it took when it mattered most. In the 12th, he landed a huge low blow that cost him a point, but it didn’t matter on the scorecards, which read 114-112 times two and 115-111.
You can dislike his father and trainer Angel, and I couldn’t blame you. What you can’t do after Saturday is question whether Garcia is the best 140-pounder in the world, and, now, one of the best active boxers alive.