Lucas Matthysse lost another controversial split decision to an American fighter on HBO when he was out-pointed by Devon Alexander on Saturday.
The hard-punching junior welterweight contender from Argentina scored a knockdown and landed the harder punches throughout the fight but he gave up the right to say he was “robbed” after taking his foot off the gas pedal in the ninth round of the entertaining 10-round main event at the Family Arena in St. Charles, Mo.
Matthysse should have known better.
The Alexander fight was the second time in seven months that Matthysse traveled to the U.S. to fight a talented former titleholder on a card put on by the better-known American’s promoter.
Seven months ago Matthysse, who is promoted by Golden Boy Promotions, fought Zab Judah on a Main Events promoted-card in New Jersey, where the former welterweight champ used to live.
Matthysse started slow but surged mid-way through the 12-round bout, scoring a ninth-round knockdown that clinched the fight in his favor in the eyes of many fans but not two of the official judges.
Against Alexander, Matthysse got his mojo going earlier, dropping the ultra-quick southpaw to the seat of his trunks with a flush right cross at the start of the fourth round.
Matthysse stayed on top of Alexander and scored with accurate uppercuts, hooks and body shots in rounds five, six and seven. In the eighth round, he punished Alexander with straight rights to the sternum that doubled the former 140-pound titleholder over along the ropes.
However, Alexander, who won by scores of 96-93, 95-94 and 93-96, never stopped moving and firing back. He wasn’t about to give up after winning the first three rounds of the bout and making the eighth round close. Alexander was still in the fight and he knew he could win it if he could take the final rounds.
Matthysse stopped punching in the ninth round and Alexander, who was criticized for not fighting through a bad cut against Timothy Bradley in the first loss of his career in January, took full advantage of it by clearly outworking the Argentine puncher.
The 10th round could have gone to either fighter, but Matthysse should have known who would get a close round on the judges scorecards.
He was the visiting fighter. He was fighting a Don King-promoted fighter on a King promotion near Alexander’s hometown of St. Louis. He should have known that he needed to gun for a knockout.
Matthysse was not going to get the benefit of the doubt in a distance fight, regardless of how much punishment he heaped on Alexander.
“He was a good fighter,” Alexander (22-1, 13 knockouts) acknowledged during his post-fight interview on HBO. “He pressed me like crazy.”
However, it was going to take more than pressure to make Alexander fold. And it was going to take more than one knockdown.
“It was a flash,” Alexander said of the knockdown. “I wasn’t hurt.”
That’s debatable. However, Alexander’s mettle and resolve cannot be questioned after the way he finished against Matthysse, an underrated boxer with the highest knockout percentage in the 140-pound division.
“I wanted to show people I’m a warrior,” Alexander said. “People said I quit in the Bradley fight, so wanted to show that I have heart.”
He does. And so does Matthysse (28-2, 26 KOs), who told HBO’s Larry Merchant that he doesn’t travel to the hometowns of American fighters just for the money.
“I do it for the glory and tonight I gave my all,” he said. “It was a tough fight but I thought I won it.”
There’s nothing wrong with Matthysse believing he won the fight. The majority of fans who watched the HBO broadcast probably agree with him.
However, a fighter can’t say he was robbed when he gives even one round away in a close fight, and Saturday’s bout was a competitive treat for fans.