For a normal person, 35 is still relatively young. But for a professional prizefighter, it can be quite old. For an all-action slugger, it can be ancient.
So it is hard not to question how excited we should get over the ongoing comeback of Argentine gunslinger Lucas Matthysse. Believe me, I want to get excited about him. He’s been one of the most thrilling fighters of the past decade–a relentless pressure fighter who earned the nickname La Maquina: The Machine.
Of Matthysse’s first 36 opponents, 33 failed to go the distance against him. He had two losses in that span–both highly contested split decisions, against Zab Judah and Devon Alexander. The Alexander decision, in particular, was obscene. Both Judah and Alexander tasted the canvas.
The biggest moment of Matthysse’s career came in May 2013, when he absolutely blasted Lamont Peterson, dropping him three times en route to a Round 3 TKO. That set up a highly anticipated showdown with Danny Garcia–a pay-per-view televised bout that over-shadowed the main event between Floyd Mayweather and Saul Alvarez, at least in the eyes of hardcore fans.
Garcia edged Matthysse in that bout by close, but decisive, margins. The loss did little to diminish Matthysse’s popularity. He got off the canvas twice to knockout John Molina in a Fight-of-the-Year quality war in April 2014. He April 2015 showdown with showdown with Ruslan Provodnikov was one of the year’s most anticipated fights. I was lucky enough to watch it from the front row of the press section–every significant boxing media outlet in the country was on hand to witness the fight. Matthysse did just enough boxing to edge the Siberian Rocky by majority decision in a relentless slugfest.
But in October 2015 Matthysse lost in stunning fashion when Viktor Postol knocked him out. Following that setback, he stepped away from the ring for over a year-and-a-half.
Matthysse returned to action last May, battering Emmanuel Taylor and stopping him in Round 5. Taylor is a legitimate fighter who had never been stopped.
Matthysse will be in the ring again this Saturday night at the fabled Forum in Inglewood. His opponent will be 38-0 (28 KOs) Tewa Kiram of Thailand. Kiram is something of a cipher–his record is impressive, but I don’t recognize a single one of his opponents. I don’t necessarily dismiss him for this–Thailand has a rugged, highly respectable fighting culture. You don’t win almost 40 professional bouts there if you don’t know how to handle yourself.
At the same time, it’s hard to know if he is close to Matthysse’s level. Either way, this one will probably be exciting for as long as it lasts.