We ventured down to Inglewood, California to the Fabulous Forum, and we had a good fight card in store for us, televised on HBO’s Boxing After Dark. The main event was headlined by the popular Argentinean Lucas “El Maquina” Matthysse (39-4, 36 KOs), who faced off against the undefeated Tewa Kiram (37-1, 27 KOs), and witnessed by 6,143 fans. This bout was for the vacant WBA welterweight title, and was scheduled for 12 rounds. This was only the second fight at welterweight for Matthysse.
The first round was a bit of a feeling out round, with neither fighter establishing dominance. During the second it became apparent that Kiram was a fighter who likes to duck and dive around a lot, and time would tell if that would be a challenge for Matthysse. Also, while Tewa was the taller fighter he tended to fight small.
Kiram is a very awkward fighter, and the booing began in that second round. They continued in the third. Lucas did not seem to be able to find an answer for him in the early rounds and was unable to land any leather thus far. In the fourth Matthysse began to throw more, but was still not able to land with authority. When it seemed he was close, Tewa would tie him up.
The man from Thailand did not look like an undefeated fighter on this night. Rather, he looked awkward and out of his element. That made Lucas look ineffective, which to this point, he was. This was not the Matthysse any of us were used to seeing.
Five rounds down, and nobody has done any damage to the other. Kiram spent a lot of time running backwards and tying Lucas up, and that certainly did not help Matthysse, as he had nothing to work with.
The sixth was more of the same, unfortunately. Most in attendance were waiting for Lucas to strike, but he had been unable to do so. The most interesting development thus far was a jar that Tewa was sniffing between rounds that was taken by referee Raul Caiz, Sr. and given to the California State Athletic Commission for inspection. The corner claimed it was an herbal salve. Results are not yet in.
The booing continued after the seventh. One thing was for sure, on his first trip to the States, Kiram wasn’t making many fight fans. His avoidance tactics were frustrating those in attendance, and most certainly his opponent. That said, Matthysse did not look at his best either, much to the chagrin of the audience. They continued to wait to see when, or if, “La Maquina” would go on the attack.
Finally, Lucas decided that Tewa did not have enough power to hurt him, and his heavy right hand found its mark. Down went Kiram, and fast! He got back up, but very shortly after that first knockdown a short left dropped him again. It was a much delayed knockdown, but he never recovered from that one, and Caiz Sr. waved the fight off at 1:21 in the eighth round.
At the time of the stoppage two of the judges had Matthysse winning the fight, while the third one had it for Kiram. Will this fight elevate Lucas? The answer would most certainly be no. But he did get the knockout, so that may close the gap a bit. It obviously remains to be seen who his next opponent will actually be.
“I’m really happy,” Lucas said after the fight. “He (Kiram) moved really well, and he was really big. That’s why it was hard to cut the distance. I didn’t feel his power, but he felt mine, so that’s why I was able to find him later and stop him. I’m here for the best and biggest names. I want the rematch with Danny Garcia or Manny Pacquiao. Those are the big fights I want, though of course that will be up to Mario Arano and Golden Boy Promotions to figure that out.”
There were no words from Kiram, as he was reportedly taken to the hospital to be checked out as soon as he was able to leave the ring.
The co-main event featured Jorge “El Nino de Oro” Linares (43-3, 27 KOs) going up against Mercito “No Mercy” Gesta (31-2-2, 17 KOs) in a fight scheduled for 12 rounds. This fight was also for the WBA and RING Magazine lightweight titles. Linares was the current holder of that WBA belt, and remained so, despite a nice challenge from Gesta.
Gesta came out fast and landed several quick shots on Linares, but than Jorge landed some leather of his own. A nice, fast-paced first round. Nothing changed in the second, as the two fighters were still charging and engaging each other. The third round was a good one for Linares. He was able to penetrate Gesta’s defenses and land nice punches.
Mercito came charging out and jumped all over Jorge to start the fourth. Linares got hot in the middle of the round, and then Gesta came back. Right before the round was over, Gesta pushed down on the head of Jorge, and referee Jack Reiss had to warn him about that.
They fought the fifth round as if it was the last, taking no prisoners and going all out. It remained to be seen if they can keep up the pace they have fighting at, but they were certainly giving the fans their money’s worth. Alright, so they did carry all of their energy into the sixth. Jabs, attacks, body shots, head shots; they gave us all of it.
The seventh was another back and forth round. Great action in a very good fight. Compared to what we had been seeing, the eighth round was a bit slow – only by the standards that had been set here. Linares was landing the harder punches, but Gesta’s spurts were rapid-fire.
Linares landed two flush, very hard shots on Gesta in the ninth, but Mercito never even took one step back. Gesta does not have as much power as Jorge, but he throws very good combinations, and did so in this round. Gesta started out the tenth by chasing Jorge around, but when that didn’t work Mercito went back to punching. Linares did the same, and the fighters continued their battle.
The eleventh round played out like the others. There was not much more the men could do, other than a knockout. Linares was a master at not allowing himself to get trapped on the ropes, and Gesta didn’t wind up there too often either. The twelfth round just topped off the great performances these two gave us. Did Gesta do enough to take that belt from Linares? We went to the scorecards and the answer was no. Two of the judges saw it 118-110 while the third had it 117-111. Linares kept his belt with a great performance.
“I didn’t really feel his (Gesta’s) power, though I hurt my hand in the fourth or fifth round,” said Linares. “I threw my right hand without really putting too much power into it. I was just touching him. There wasn’t a knockout because he was well prepared. Like I said to Oscar De La Hoya, I don’t want to mention names for my next opponent. You know what’s nice? That people mention my name (as a possible opponent). That’s fine that they mention my name, but let’s get them in the ring. Let them get in the ring with me.”
Gesta had this to say. “I fought against a world champion, and that was a great privilege. Linares adjusted well to my style after the first couple of rounds. Overall, I am proud of myself for taking this tough fight, and I know me and coach Freddie Roach came in with the best game plan. We just fell a little short.”
Welterweights were next as Marcelino “Nino” Lopez (34-2-1, 19 KOs) faced off against Breidis Prescott (30-12, 17 KOs) in a fight scheduled for eight rounds. Both men showed some good work in the first. We saw body work by Prescott, while Lopez made good use of his jab. Both men looked to be getting the jump on their opponent in the second, but while they landed a couple of good shots, neither on really did much damage.
All that changed in the third, as both fighters landed some really good shots. They had definitely picked up the pace. The same was true of the fourth, and half-way through the fight we were seeing a good one. Just when it seemed as if the pace had been slowing down, a little left/right combination dropped Prescott. He got up at the eight seconds, but right after that Lopez dropped him again and the fight was stopped at 2:59 of that fifth round.
This was a very good win for Marcelino, who had this to say after his fight. “Boxing is a beautiful sport that is so exhilarating, but to get a knockout is the best part and what we train for. It takes sacrifice to leave your home country, and to be able to focus and get a win like this is so satisfying. I want to thank Joel Diaz, who has taken me in like his family and has helped me improve and refine my style.”
Romero Duno (16-1, 14 KOs) faced off against Yardley Armenta (21-10, 12 KOs). This fight was scheduled for eight rounds in the lightweight division. Almost before the ring announcements were made the fight was over. A very well-placed body shot by Duno dropped Armenta and down he stayed, causing referee Jerry Cantu to wave the fight off at 1:01 of that very first round.
“I wasn’t expecting to knock him out in the first round. I can’t even remember if I actually hurt him. My coach told me to go in there and use my jab and to keep calm, but I just got really excited and the next thing I knew I won!”
Featherweights stepped into the ring as we saw two undefeated fighters as Nava Tenochtitlan (7-1, 1 KO) faced off against Francisco Esparza (7-0-1, 3 KOs). This bout was scheduled for eight rounds. The first round was full of action from these two lighter men, but so far no damage. Esparza connected with a few nice overhand rights in the second round. The third round also had a lot of action but again, no harm no foul.
The fourth was a good round for both fighters, and probably the best one so far for Nava. Still, Francisco stayed right with him. We had an absolute war in the fifth. Both men went at it the full three minutes with both scoring points. At 1:43 of the sixth, with Tenochtitlan taking way more punishment than necessary, referee Thomas Taylor stopped the fight. A good call by Taylor, even though it handed Nava his first loss of his career.
After the fight Esparza said, “We were expecting a knock out by the eighth round, so we were glad that it happened earlier. I’m trained by former world champion Fernando Vargas, and he is an important mentor and helped me execute a game plan where we broke down Nava. Hopefully, I’ll be fighting in my hometown of Las Vegas in May.”
Ferdinand Kerobyan (8-0, 4 KOs) went up against Lucius Johnson (4-2-1, 3 KOs) in a fight scheduled for six rounds in the super welterweight division. This was a hotly contested fight, but unfortunately for Johnson all of the heat was coming from Kerobyan. The hard-hitting Ferdinand was delivering most of the damage. Twice in the fourth round Ferdinand sent the mouthpiece of Lucius flying off out of the ring.
For the third time the mouthpiece left the mouth of Johnson, and referee Jerry Cantu took away a point. With the beating Lucius was taking it was surprising that he had not tasted the canvas as of yet. We went into the sixth and final round.
It took Johnson all five rounds, but in the sixth he went crazy on Kerobyan. He landed really hard punches, and at one point Ferdinand even ended up on his butt. I am still not sure if that was ruled a slip or a knockdown, but it didn’t matter. We went to the scorecards and all three of the judges saw the fight 59-54, in favor of Kerobyan.
“The energy was incredible tonight! I was glad to have the support of the fans and my Armenian community,” Kerobyan said. “I’m just ready to start stepping up the level of competition I am facing and I want to be able to start fighting for some regional titles soon.”
Middleweights Daquan Pauldo (17-1, 9 KOs) faced off against Osbaldo Gonzalez (6-2, 4 KOs). This bout was scheduled for six rounds. Pauldo was able to land a few really good right hands on Gonzalez in the first round. The second round didn’t offer up a lot, but Daquan landed with his right again in the third, and when Osbaldo went back to his corner his nose was bleeding.
The fourth was another round that really saw no damage done. This was also the case in the fifth. While there are 13 knockouts between them, going into the final round neither man had shown that kind of power. Not much more to say after the sixth and we went to the scorecards. The judges saw it 58-56 twice and 59-55, all for Pauldo. Have to give a little bit of credit to Gonzalez here, as he took the fight on short notice. The original opponent for Pauldo was Yoshihiro Kamegai.
After the fight Pauldo said, “I thought the judges were going to stop the fight after the third round because his nose was torn up. I would give myself a 5.5 for my performance – it’s been two-and-a-half years since I’ve been able to be consistent in the ring, and I think both me and my promoter would agree that what I need is to be more consistent with my training. I needed to move a lot more inside the ring and be more active inside.”
In the first fight of the afternoon we saw featherweights take to the ring in a bout scheduled for six rounds. In the opener, Javier Martinez (5-0. 3 KOs) absolutely dominated Danny Flores (11-10-1, 5 KOs). The final scores were 58-55 twice and 59-55, giving Martinez his fifth victory of his young career.
“I am not proud of my performance. It was really hard to adjust and get into the rhythm of things,” Martinez said. “This sport is all about taking steps forward, and I just have to take from all my mistakes and improve from this point.”
So after a long day/night of fights some things are still up in the air. Matthysse got the victory but didn’t really prove anything. I feel certain he will get another fight, but the question is with whom? Linares looked very strong so expect big things from him. And the most impressive was probably Argentina’s Marcelino Lopez. Keep your eyes on this man.