Erik Morales will fight Lucas Matthysse instead of Jorge Barrios on the Floyd Mayeather Jr.-Victor Ortiz card on Sept. 17 in Las Vegas, Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer confirmed.
Morales, ranked No. 3 by the WBC, was set to fight Barrios for the now-vacant WBC junior welterweight title but the unranked Argentine could not get the proper travel documents to enter the country, Schaefer said.
Matthysse, a Golden Boy fighter, is ranked No. 7 by the WBC and had no fight scheduled.
The title became vacant when the WBC designated titleholder Tim Bradley as “champion in recess” after he pulled out of a fight with Amir Khan.
That move and the decision to sanction the Morales-Barrios matchup as a title fight were criticized by some members of the media.
“I know a lot of people asked, ‘Does Barrios deserve a title shot?’” Schaefer said. “I don’t think anyone has a problem with Morales. And now, with Morales fighting Matthysse, I don’t think anyone can say anything negative.
“This is deserving of being a title fight between two of the best 140-pounders in the world.”
Morales (51-7, 35 knockouts) stunned many in the boxing world by turning in a strong performance against Marcos Maidana in April, losing by a controversial majority decision.
Many observers feared for his safety going into that fight. Now, again, he is taking on a hard-punching and respected fighter from Argentina.
Morales would be the first Mexican to win a title in four weight divisions if he beats Matthysse.
“That’s typical of Morales,” Schaefer said. “He wants to fight the biggest and baddest. For him to have the balls to go and fight Lucas Matthysse shows you what Erik Morales is all about..
“And I think it’s going to be a great fight. These are two actions fighters.”
Matthysse (28-2, 26 KOs) has had bad luck in big fights in the U.S., losing controversial split decisions to Zab Judah and Devon Alexander.
Still, Schaefer said, he jumped at the chance to fight Morales.
“To tell you the truth, he gave up a little bit on fighting in the U.S.,” Schaefer said. “He was planning to do a couple of fights in Argentina. Now, with this opportunity, not only is he fighting for a world title but he’s fighting a legend in Erik Morales.
“He was literally jumping up and down with this opportunity.”
Bradley would be a potential opponent for the winner of Morales-Matthysse if he can solve his promotional problems. He was sued by co-promoters Gary Shaw and Thompson Boxing for pulling out of the Khan fight.
Bradley also is still in the mix to fight Khan.
The Morales-Matthysse matchup gives extra weight to the Mayweather-Ortiz split-site pay-per-view broadcast. The main event, for Ortiz's WBC welterweight title, might be the biggest fight of the year; Saul "Canelo" Alvarez defends his WBC junior middleweight title against Alfonso Gomez in Los Angeles; and Jhonny Gonzalez-Elio Rojas and Jessie Vargas-Josesito Lopez fights are compelling.
"In my opinion, this is the biggest pay-per-view card we've ever put on and one of the biggest in recent pay-per-view history," Schaefer said.