Lucas Matthysse on Provodnikov: ‘We’ll find out who was ready’
There are very few fighters in the world who can claim to have sent every single one of their opponents to the canvas at least once during a fight, regardless of the final result. Argentina’s Lucas Matthysse (36-3, 34 knockouts) was a member of that improbable club until he ran into Danny Garcia for the junior welterweight championship back in September of 2013. Matthysse, currently the No. 1 contender in the RING ratings, was the slight favorite in that fight and was honoring that favoritism by leading on all scorecards until his eye began to close as a result of Garcia‘s left hook. With his corner unable to manage the swelling, Matthysse’s ability to see punches coming from his right side was lost – and with it, the result of the bout.
But Matthysse redeemed himself with one of his career-best performances against John Molina in his next bout, gaining greater attention from fans and media alike and setting himself up for another high-profile bout. That fight will materialize on April 18 when Matthysse meets former titlist and current No. 3 contender Ruslan Provodnikov (24-3, 17 KOs) in what is already being hailed as one of the best matchups of the year.
RingTV.com caught up with Matthysse at the end of a workout in the small town of Junin, where he resides and trains:
How’s your training going so far?
Good, very good. We’ve been training for four weeks. Today (Saturday) we went for a swim, and on the afternoon I will do a light run. We’ve sparred with Nino Lopez, Juan Manuel Bonanni, Leonardo Cirolla, and a few young guys during the week.
What have you done differently in this training camp in comparison to the previous ones? You have added a special mask to alter your oxygen intake?
We started using [the mask] in our last camp, but now we are using it more. Working with the mask and then without it is a noticeable change. When you work with the mask it feels like you run out of oxygen quickly, but then you take it off and you can tell the difference. It’s a great change. We also do a lot of work with the mitts in the afternoon, and in the morning we change routines to work on speed and a few new things. A few changes, but we’re working mostly on speed.
How do you evaluate Provodnikov? What worries you the most about his style?
Well, I know what everyone knows, that he is a strong fighter who comes forward all the time. He throws a lot of punches and is very resilient. He always looks very strong. There’s nothing in particular that worries me. What I would keep an eye on is the way he throws those wide open punches from both sides, and with power. But I am not particularly worried. I have a lot of experience and I have fought other guys who are more complete than him. Maybe he’s more of a brawler than those guys, but we’re ready for anything.
Provodnikov has a tendency to swell up, and you’re coming from a similar injury in your fight against Garcia. Do you worry about this becoming a factor in the fight?
In all of his fights he ends up very swollen, he probably has a thin skin. But my situation was different, it was an accident that happened in my fight with Garcia, but I am not worried about that.
What’s the main weapon you’re planning to use against him?
We’re working on variations, trying to come up with combinations both upstairs and downstairs. We’re working on a great fight plan.
The expectations for this fight are huge. How are you experiencing all this?
I am very happy that most of the tickets are already gone and that people are waiting for the fight anxiously. There is a lot of expectation placed on Mayweather vs. Pacquiao, but boxing people are waiting to see us fight because they know we are two true fighters. But I don’t feel the pressure, I am just happy to see the interest in the fight and to have it broadcast to the world. It’s just a source of pride for me, but not of pressure. I am experienced enough not to worry about it. I have to focus on doing a good job, and that’s what I am doing.
How do you see the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight?
I believe Mayweather will win comfortably. I would have loved to see this fight happening four or five years ago. Right now is just for the money, but they still are two of the most important fighters in the world.
You could say that you are in a short list of possible opponents for the eventual winner of the fight. How do you see yourself in a fight with either one of them?
Yes, I hope to be there. First I want to win my next fight, because I am very motivated and confident, and that’s why we’re working so hard. But hopefully the winner of that fight, which will surely be Mayweather, could choose me to fight him. If I win this fight I will be one step closer to that goal, and that’s why this fight is so important to me.
[Your trainer, Luis] Barrera thinks you can knock Provodnikov out. Are you going to try to score a stoppage against such a resilient guy or is it just a wish?
I believe Provodnikov has not yet faced a puncher with the kind of results that I have achieved. It’s going to be a great fight. I am going to do my job and he will do his, we’ll face off up there and later we’ll find out who was ready. I will work on my plan and I hope to bring the victory to Argentina.
Correct me if I am wrong, but it is said that you scored a knockdown in every single one of your fights, win or lose, except against Garcia. Is that true?
Yes, it’s true. The only one who didn’t fall was Garcia, but everyone else went down eventually.
Speaking of Garcia, is the rematch a goal for you after this fight, or you don’t think about it much?
I am over it, of course. I lost against the best man in the division, at least according to the rankings, but it bothers me that they have the title and they don’t fight for it, while I have an important fight and I am not fighting for any belts. But I am over that. Maybe later I will try to fight him again, because I always try to fight against the best and he’s always up there with the best, so we will continue looking for that fight.
In your fight against Garcia it appeared that you had a lot of problems overcoming that swelling in your right eye. How bad was it, and how did it end up affecting you so much?
I believe I was doing a great job until the sixth round, but it became very difficult fighting with one eye. But I think I did a great job, I went the distance and I kept throwing punches all the time. He never really ran over me nor was much better than me, we were always even, and I had only one eye. I think I fought a great fight and I am proud of that.
How do you imagine the fight against Provodnikov, round by round?
Depending on how he comes out. I will come out fighting as usual, working from the very beginning and looking for a victory. He will be himself again, I don’t think he’s going to change overnight. He’s going to come forward all the time. I think I have more options to offer, but that’s going to develop as the fight moves along.
Finally, what does 2015 have in store for you? Are planning to finally move up in weight?
For now, I will remain at 140 this year. I’ll do this fight, maybe one more, and then next year I will work on moving up to 147. Next year I will probably make the jump.