Viktor Postol couldn’t have had a better night: Weekend Review
Viktor Postol: The new WBC junior welterweight titleholder might never again have a night like he experienced on Saturday in Carson, California. He was facing a high-profile opponent for a vacant world title on HBO, arguably the most important network for boxing in the United States. And he couldn’t have hoped for a better outcome. The taller Postol fought a nearly perfect fight, using his length (read: long jab) to keep Matthysse at a safe distance and moved deftly or held when the Argentine managed to get close. The Ukrainian didn’t do all that much offensively through nine rounds but was leading a close fight on the cards. Then he surprised everyone by becoming the first to stop his highly regarded opponent, whose previous three losses were all close decisions. That’s a heck of a night. Postol (28-0, 12 knockouts) has very clearly arrived on the scene in a big way. I see him exactly as his promoter Bob Arum does, as a fighter whose physical attributes and style will pose challenges to anyone in his division. I don’t see him as a world beater, though. He’s a difficult style matchup, not a dynamic fighter with pound-for-pound potential. I want to see how he does if he faces a fighter who is more complete than Matthysse, namely Terence Crawford.
Lucas Matthysse: Matthysse (37-4, 34 KOs) lost more than a fight on Saturday. His reputation as a quintessential warrior also took a hit, at least to some degree. The Argentine discovered the hard way just how good Postol can be, for which he should be forgiven. Postol’s height, reach and style would give most opponents fits. And keep in mind: Through nine rounds, the fight was close. Two judges had Postol leading 86-85, the third had Matthysse up by the same score. (I had it 87-84 for Postol.) The conclusion of the fight is what raised eyebrows. Matthysse had the body language of a discouraged fighter a few rounds before the knockout, as if he knew his mission was hopeless. Then, in the 10th, he took what seemed to be a solid, but not extraordinary straight right yet fell to all fours. And then he didn’t get up before the count of 10. He said he was protecting an injured eye. Many of those who watched used the word “quit,” the dirtiest term in boxing. On one hand, who could blame him? He knew better than anyone that it wasn’t his night. And we’ll take his word that his eye was injured. Live to fight another day. On the other hand, warriors don’t give up. Matthysse has some rebuilding to do.
Adrien Broner: Let’s not make too much of Broner’s victory over Khabib Allakhverdiev on Saturday in Cincinnati. The hometown fighter won a junior welterweight title against an opponent who was ranked only No. 5 by the sanctioning body and had lost his previous fight, although some thought Allakhverdiev deserved the decision over Jessie Vargas in April. That said, Broner looked a lot more like the fighter who had impressive runs in the junior lightweight and lightweight divisions. He was quick and explosive as he picked Allakhverdiev apart and then closed the show, stopping the Russian with 37 seconds remaining in the fight. Nice work. Broner (31-2, 23 KOs) obviously was more comfortable at 140 pounds after disastrous losses to Marcos Maidana and Shawn Porter at 147. He is where he belongs. Again, a victory over Allakhverdiev (19-2, 9 KOs) doesn’t erase recent setbacks but it was a significant step in the right direction for a talented fighter. Now let’s see how he does when he fights a next-level opponent.
Antonio Orozco (23-0, 15 KOs) and Humberto Soto (65-9-2, 35) engaged in what I thought was a competitive 10-round matchup of junior welterweight contenders on the Postol-Matthysse card, as both had their moments in a give-and-take fight. The CompuBox punch stats back me up: Orozco out-landed Soto by only three punches overall, 187-184. The judges saw it differently, giving Orozco a 98-91, 97-92 and 97-92 victory. I can see Orozco getting the nod. But nine rounds to one and eight to two? No way. Kudos to Soto, who can still bring it at 35 years old. ÔÇª No one really lost in the Jose Pedraza–Edner Cherry fight on the Broner-Allakhverdiev card. Pedraza (21-0, 12 KOs) emerged with a split-decision victory over Cherry (34-7-2, 19 KOs) in a close fight to retain his recently won IBF junior lightweight title. That obviously was a disappointment to Cherry, who was fighting for a world title for the first time. However, he didn’t hurt his stock. A strong performance should keep him in the thick of the 130-pound scene. ÔÇª Hot-and-cold IBF cruiserweight titleholder Victor Ramirez (22-2-1, 17 KOs) barely retained his title against late replacement Ovill McKenzie (25-12-1, 13 KOs) on Friday in Buenos Aires, as they fought to a split-decision draw. Most observers expected a better performance from the Argentine. ÔÇª Not sure what to think of Dominican Javier Fortuna, who doesn’t always look sharp but remains undefeated. Fortuna (29-0-1, 21 KOs) stopped Carlos Velasquez (19-2, 12 KOs) in 10 rounds on Tuesday in Las Vegas.