Referee Steve Smoger is known for almost never stopping fights on his own, often allowing bouts to be contested to their violent conclusion either by the fighters’ fists, their corners’ decision or that of the ringside doctors.
On Saturday night, however, hammer-fisted junior welterweight contender Lucas Matthysse (34-2, 32 knockouts) pounded IBF titleholder Lamont Peterson (31-2-1, 16 KOs) emphatically enough that even Smoger was convinced to call a halt to the bout at 2:14 of the third and final round.
THE RING’s No. 1-rated 140 pounder scored a knockdown in the second round and two more in the third of his 141-pound catchweight bout against Peterson, who was stopped for the first time in his career.
Matthysse earned his sixth consecutive stoppage win since losing to current IBF welterweight titleholder Devon Alexander by disputed split-decision in a 10-round junior welterweight bout in June of 2011.
In defeat, Peterson, 29, lost for the first time since falling by unanimous decision to current WBO 147-pound beltholder Tim Bradley as a junior welterweight in December of 2009, ending a run of 4-0-1, with three knockout wins.
Smoger, who was inducted into Pennsylvania’s Hall of Fame on Sunday, shared his thoughts below on the performance of Matthysse, 30, who positioned himself for a fight against unbeaten RING, WBA and WBC champion Danny Garcia on Sept. 7 potentially at The Verizon Center in Washington, D.C.
Steve Smoger on Matthysse’s chin and punching power:
“I have been blessed to have been in with some very signficant 140-pounders. Amir Khan when he was very good at 140, Paulie Malignaggi when he was at 140. Zab Judah and Danny Garcia. Devon Alexander when he was at 140. Even Marcos Maidana when he was at 140. And by far, Matthysse is the hardest puncher at 140 that I’ve ever been in with.
“So, he has two great attributes of a class A, top-level fighter. He has can dish out the punishment, and he can take it. In fact, at one point, Matthysse showed that he had a marvelous chin, because Lamont caught him flush, and he just shrugged it off.
On the first and second round:
“The first round was a feel-out round. Round two, that was when he got dropped. Lucas caught Lamont with a forehead shot in the second round that really, really hurt him.
“That dropped him in the second round, but he got up and he collected himself, and he finished the round, but in a very, very defensive posture.”
On the third round and the stoppage:
“Now, we come in for the third round, and I give all credit to Lamont. He tried to stand his ground and to go toe-to-toe with Lucas Matthysse. Lamont wanted to exchange. He tried to establish himself. Lamont stood in the pocket, and they rattled each other. But in my opinion, Lamont really never fully recovered from that shot. That second-round shot.”
“But late in the round, they exchange magnificent left hooks. Matthysse’s hook landed right on the button, and Lamont dropped like he had been shot. So Lamont begins to get up, but then, the most tell tale sign to a referee is that — what does he do ? He falls over. I could have stopped it then.
“But, you know, I study my fighters. Lamont had done very well getting up from a knockdown against Amir Khan. And he did very well with Kendall Holt. Even though Kendall is in the twilight of his career, he still is a very, very big puncher, and Lamont had handled that. He got up by the count of eight.
“But I could still see that he was still dazed. He was responsive. Lamont walked to me, so when I saw that, I determined that he still had his motor skills. But after the next time, I knew that he hadn’t. So I felt that beyond that, if I would have allowed the fight to continue, I would expose him to ‘El Explosivo.’ So I had made that formulation at the end of the second round.”
On the conversation he had with Peterson after the second knockdown:
“Okay, I said, ‘Lamont?’ And he said, ‘I’m good, I’m good.’ So I said, ‘Step to me, now. Step to me.’ That’s all I said. I said, ‘Lamont?’ And he said, ‘I’m good, I’m good.’ So then, he walked to me.
“I then formulated, because he’s a world champion and his prior history, that I would let him come out and continue. But I decided that at the sign of the first significant shot, that I’m stopping it.”
FELIX VERDEJO RISES TO 6-0 WITH FIFTH KNOCKOUT VICTORY
Puerto Rican junior lightweight prospect Felix Verdejo remained undefeated by scoring his fifth straight knockout on Saturday night over Corben Page at Cancha Ruben Zayas Montanez, Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico.
For Verdejo (6-0, 5 KOs), who turned 20 on May 19, came up with a fourth-round stoppage of Page (4-6-1) for his fifth win of 2013.
Last month, at New York’s Radio City Music Hall, Verdejo scored two knockdowns, the second on a vicious right-left-right combination for the first-round stoppage of Steve Gutierrez.
DUSTY HERNANDEZ-HARRISON RISES TO 15-0
Welterweight Dusty Hernandez-Harrison (15-0, 9 KOs), of Washington, D.C., scored a fifth-round knockout over Eddie Soto (12-7, four KOs), of Providence, R.I., on Saturday night at The University of The District of Columbia.
Soto lost for the seventh straight time against Hernandez-Harrison, an 18-year-old who began his professional career at the age of 17.
Photo by Naoki Fukuda
Photo by Peter Amador, Top Rank
Lem Satterfield can be reached at [email protected]