Interim WBA Welterweight Champion Keith Thurman asserted himself early and took control, from the start en-route to a third round stoppage over Julio Diaz at the StubHub Center in Carson, California last night.
The younger, 25-year old Thurman (23-0, 21 KOs) got off to an impressive start in round one, using his hand and foot speed to full effect against the 34-year old ex Lightweight champ Diaz (40-10-1, 29 KOs). Thurman set the pace, landing his jab early as well as combination to the head and body of Diaz who early on just couldn’t keep up. The momentum continued in round two as Thurman used solid jabs and improved side to side movement to set up combinations. Two minutes into round two, Thurman struck, hurting Diaz with a lead left uppercut. Thurman followed up with a left hook to the top of Diaz head which forced him to take a knee with thirty seconds to go in the round. Diaz staged a brief rally in round three as he came out fighting with fire in an exciting round that was full of back and forth exchanges.
However at the end of the round referee Jack Reiss, upon advise of the corner of Julio Diaz, surprisingly decided to top the bout due to a rib injury suffered by Diaz. As for the future for the trash-talking Thurman, a potential unification bout against IBF Champion Shawn Porter (who scored an impressive stoppage over Paulie Malignaggi last week and presumably has a bout coming up against top contender Kell Brook next) could be down the line later on this year.
While Thurman – Diaz was the main event, the under-card bout between Lucas Matthysse and John Molina stole the show and was the fight of the night. In a clear candidate for Fight of the Year for 2014, Matthysse and Molina went toe to toe in an all out war until Matthysse finally wore Molina down late to score an eleventh round stoppage. Matthysse (35-3, 32 KOs) was making a return the ring following a failed shot at the title against Danny Garcia last September in which he suffered a broken orbital bone. Molina (27-4 22 KOs) got off early as he landed hard shots early hurting Matthysse with a right hand to the head with one minute to go in round one then knocking down Matthysse courtesy of another right hand towards the end of round two. The bad start continued for Matthysse as suffered a cut over his right eye and behind his right ear in round three, then was put down on the canvas again by way of a right hand to the back of the head in round five.
However, Matthysse stayed the course and was busier throughout despite the hard punches landed by Molina. Bigger and stronger, Matthysse’s edge in size and strength started to show in round six in which he punished Molina, landed hard shots to the head and body. The momentum of the bout had changed as Matthysse continued to press forward in round seven and was credited with a knockdown in round eight (while it looked to be a push rather than a legitimate knockdown, it proved to be the beginning of the end).
In round nine, Matthysse dished out further punishment landing powerful lefts and rights battering a tired and weary Molina. The onslaught continued once again in round ten and with thirty seconds to go in the round, a barrage of shots by Matthysse sent Molina to the canvas. In round eleven Matthysse went to work again and another series of punches put down Molina again prompting referee Pat Russell to call a halt to the contest. After the bout, Matthysse said he wants a rematch with Jr. Welterweight kingpin Danny Garcia.
Overall, this was very good card and two terrific bouts. Sure the Thurman – Diaz bout ended strangely, but the bout showed that Keith Thurman is an improving fighter who could become a future force in the Welterweight division. However, the night belonged to Lucas Matthysse and John Molina who gave boxing fans a treat. While Matthysse had his troubles early, he showed that he’s back and once again is in line for a big fight. Kudos must be given to Molina as well as he showed all the heart and toughness in the world. I salute both Thurman, Matthysse, and Molina who gave us fans a real show.
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