ATLANTIC CITY – Lucas Matthysse didn’t look like a man who had endured a week’s worth of aggravation, an 11-hour plane ride and a 2-hour car trip to get to a date with Lamont Peterson at Boardwalk Hall on Saturday night.
As he sat at a small table with a group of reporters inside of a meeting room at Caesar’s Palace on Thursday afternoon, Matthysse looked like he had just walked across the street from having a cup of coffee. If appearances are any indication, then Matthysse looked more than ready for his 12-round junior welterweight match against Peterson, the IBF titleholder.
“It’s been a very long trip,” Matthysee said. “But the most important thing is I’m here now and I’m ready to fight.”
Matthysse’s home in Trelew, Argentina, was burglarized Thursday while he was away training in the town of Junin.
“Someone broke in and took some things and cut up my passport,” Matthysse said. “I don’t know who did it.”
It took Matthysse nearly a week to get another passport and visa to travel to America so that he could fight Peterson.
“I don’t think it’s going to have any influence on the fight,” he said. “I had already done basically everything (in training).”
If he didn’t have the problem with his passport, he would have arrived in America on Monday to acclimate himself to his environment. That is what he has done in previous fights in America. But that really hasn’t helped him win in his previous major matches here. He lost split decisions to Zab Judah in New Jersey and to Devon Alexander in Missouri.
Certainly Matthysse won’t be robbed twice in the two weeks. He laughed at the suggestion.
Matthysse’s power is no joking matter. He has knocked out 31 of his 35 opponents. Peterson said he isn’t going to be overly concerned with Matthysse’s power, because he doesn’t plan on getting hit with any clean shots.
“Peterson will feel my power,” Matthysse said.
Even though he made that vow, Matthysse doesn’t discount what Peterson is capable of doing.
“Peterson is a good fighter and a good boxer,” Matthysse said. “He knows how to deal with things when he is in danger. I think I can beat him with my power. I know how to get in the best punches to use my power.”
Kevin Cunningham, Alexander’s trainer, said when Alexander fought Matthysse they had a basic strategy.
“I think he was looking to land that big right hand,” Cunningham said. “We took away that right hand. We boxed him and kept him turning.”
Cunningham said Alexander was only 60 percent of himself because he’d had trouble making the weight and starved himself to get down to 140.
“We got to a point in camp where Devon couldn’t get past 147 pounds,” Cunningham said. “By the fourth round he said he felt like his legs weren’t underneath him.”
Matthysse pushed Alexander to the limits and many people thought that he did enough to win the fight. Alexander abandoned the junior welterweight division and moved to 147 pounds after that fight.
Matthysse believes Peterson and Alexander are similar.
“They have the same style except one is a southpaw and the other is orthodox,” Matthysse said.
Matthysse isn’t the biggest name in boxing in Argentina. That belongs to Sergio Martinez, the middleweight champion. But Matthysse has a rich boxing heritage.
“Everybody in my family is involved in boxing,” he said. “My mother, my father, my sister, my brother. It’s a family tradition.”
His sister, Edith Soledad, fought for a world title in Argentina last week. Go figure, she lost by split decision.
Matthysse knows all about that. He is returning to America to try to do what he couldn’t do the last two times he came here. He’s trying to win another important match that will advance his position in the junior welterweight division. This trip got off to a bumpy start, but he hopes it has a successful ending.
His most recent experience and those from his past trips to America haven’t dampened Matthysse’s resolve.
“When they told me that I was coming back to America for this fight I came with the mentality to win,” he said. “I never came here thinking it was going to be a robbery. I’ve got some experience in that. But I’m not thinking I’m going to get robbed one more time.”
Yes, indeed. Once in a week is enough.
Devon Alexander, the IBF welterweight titleholder, knows that he has to pick up the excitement level in his match against Lee Purdy at Boardwalk Hall on Saturday night.
“It’s important to look impressive and good in all the fights,” Alexander said. “I definitely expect to look spectacular on Saturday night. I’m 100 percent focused on Lee Purdy. It’s going to be explosive.”
Alexander has taken criticism for excessive holding in his match against Marcos Maidana and a lackluster performance in his last fight against Randall Bailey on Oct. 20.
“People call him boring because he holds and doesn’t do much,’’ Purdy said. “It’s a fight and you don’t want to be holding and just doing enough to win on points. People pay good money to see you fight and not hold.
“If Devon wants to fight Floyd Mayweather he’s got to get through me and he’s got to look good doing it. He can’t be holding. If he doesn’t hold it will make for a good fight.”
Alexander said Purdy doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
“I guess he’s going back to the Maidana fight,” Alexander said. “You go back to that fight and I dominated that fight and (all) they can come up with is that I was holding. It’s just another tactic he’s using to motivate himself.”
Alexander was supposed to fight Kell Brook. That fight was postponed twice before they settled on Purdy. Alexander said he didn’t have a hard time adjusting his training and strategy to take on Purdy.
“I’ve seen all the styles from boxers, to slick fighters, to sluggers,” Alexander said. “It wasn’t hard at all to adjust to Lee Purdy. He has a basic style, come forward hands up. We’ve seen that before. He kind of fights like (Juan) Urango, except a little wilder.”
Cunningham thinks Purdy’s style is perfect for Alexander to look good.
“I’ve watched several fights and he looks like he’s pretty strong and aggressive and comes forward,” Cunningham said. “He’s more of a brawler than anything. He gets in close and brawls and that works out perfectly. He’s made to order for Devon’s style. From a skillset standpoint he’s not on Devon’s level.”
Alexander and Cunningham were peppered with questions about a possible matchup against another Brit, Amir Khan. Alexander said he hadn’t heard any of those rumors because he stays off the internet while he’s training for a fight.
“If he wants it, he can get it to, but I don’t think he wants it,” Alexander said. “Every guy that Amir Khan gets into the ring with whose elite or at the top level, he loses or gets knockout. For him to think he can have a shot at me is…well…OK. It’s good. I’m open to that fight. I will definitely take him down if that opportunity comes.”
But Alexander would much more like to have a lucrative showdown with Floyd Mayweather.
“Everybody would love to fight Floyd,” Alexander said. “I’m open to that after this fight. Of course I’m anxious to get in there with the best pound-for-pound fighter in the game. If it comes up I would be happy to. That’s what I want and that’s what everybody wants is to be at the highest level. If I were to fight Floyd, I wouldn’t just be coming for a pay day. You can believe that.”
SAME STREET, DIFFERENT LOCATION
Dusty Harrison (14-0, 8 KOs), a welterweight prospect from Southwest Washington D.C., will be headlining his own card against Eddie Soto (12-6, 4 KOs) at the University of the District of Columbia on the same night as his neighbor Lamont Peterson will be taking on Lucas Matthysse at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. The Peterson brothers have an apartment two doors down the street from Harrison. Lamont said they keep an apartment in the neighborhood to maintain a presence, but they aren’t there much. Peterson’s fight will be live on Showtime, while Harrison’s match will be streamed live on GoFightLive.com.
And while Peterson will be in tough, Harrison, who is only 18, is still learning his craft. He is unlikely to be tested on Saturday night. Soto, a 36-year-old from Pawtucket, R.I. by way of Puerto Rico, has a 12-6 record with 4 KOs. But Soto has lost his last six fights, including five by way of KO.
Photos / Kevork Djansezian-Getty Images, Al Bello-Golden Boy