CARSON, Calif. (April 27, 2014) – On an exciting night when unbeaten WBA Interim Welterweight Champion Keith “One Time” Thurman retained his title with a third-round TKO over former world champion Julio “The Kidd” Diaz and undefeated Omar “Panterita” Figueroa successfully defended his WBC lightweight crown with a 12-round split decision over Jerry Belmontes, Lucas “The Machine” Matthysse stole the show with a spectacular, brutal 11th-round knockout over John Molina in the leading Fight of the Year candidate Saturday on SHOWTIME®.
The Argentine, ranked No. 1 in the world at 140 pounds, was hurt in the first and dropped in the second and fifth rounds. But the former interim WBC 140-pound world champion came back with knockdowns in the eighth, 10th and 11th to turn back a determined bid by Molina and capture the WBC Continental Americas Super Lightweight Championship.
“It was a war,’’ said Matthysse, who improved his record to 35-3 with 33 KOs. “And it got complicated for me at the beginning, but we trained for this and we got the knockout. He hit me in the back of the head (in the second) and I crumbled a bit but I was waiting to find my distance and I was able to finish a tough fight.
“Molina is a tough fighter. He took some big blows (14 unanswered at the end of the 10th). I was a bit surprised he came back out for the 11th.”
Regarding his loss last September to unified 140-pound world champion Danny Garcia, Matthysse said, “I want the rematch. I feel that he had very good luck that night. I want the rematch."
Offered the game but proud Molina (27-4, 22 KOs) afterward: “I am very disappointed. We gave the fans a good fight and I’m happy about that. I wasn’t well-known before this fight but I feel like I am now. I’m disappointed I didn’t finish Lucas. I had him hurt, but this is a learning experience. I only had a few amateur fights, so I’m learning from every experience.
“Trainer) Joe Goossen had a great game plan and we were sticking to it. Lucas Matthysse is the real deal. Even though he lost to Garcia, he still is the No. 1 rated fighter. I’d love to fight him again. I wanted to continue but the referee and judges have their jobs to do.
“It was a helluva fight. This was the fight of the year. I’d like to do it again.’’
In the main event of the Golden Boy Promotions-promoted event at StubHub Center, Thurman (23-0, 21 KOs), of Clearwater, Fla., dropped Diaz in the second round. Diaz (40-10-1, 29 KOs), of Coachella, Calif., rebounded with a strong showing in the third but got hit with a body shot that ended the fight. Diaz, upon the suggestion of his corner between rounds, did not come out for the fourth.
Said Thurman, “I felt the body shot (to Diaz). I felt he was going to go down. I wondered if I hadn’t landed it clean enough. He’s a tough guy. He showed up to fight. You saw what he was doing in the ring. His rib… he had eight more rounds to go so he did what he had to do.
“I landed a clean left hook to the temple (in the second). He felt it. So, he thought it would be better to take a knee, rather than take another shot to the head. I train to do that. If you feel that your legs aren’t right and you are in with a dangerous puncher, you take a knee. It was a wise decision.
“Everybody shoots for the Mayweather sweepstakes. I am here to entertain, to dominate the welterweight division. I love the sport of boxing. I love knockouts. I am going to keep giving them to you.
“Shawn Porter is a terrific fighter. He’s a great friend of mine. He’s a devastating boxer-puncher like myself. Whenever they’re ready, I am ready.
Diaz, who took a knee after getting hit, had no excuses. “I got caught with a good body shot, in the rib,’’ he said. “I had trouble breathing. After the punch, I couldn’t breathe. I am human. I got hurt. The guy had some power. But I am a two-time champion. I have never quit in a fight. I didn’t have anything to prove. I took a knee to recuperate from a shot to the back of my head. And the rib shot really got me. I ain’t 18 years old anymore. I wanted to give a war, but I had to know when it was my time.’’
Marcos Maidana, who was in attendance, spoke with SHOWTIME about his major assignment next Saturday, May 3, against Floyd “Money” Mayweather live on SHOWTIME PPV (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT), after the opening bout of the telecast.
“I’m very happy to see this crowd here cheering me on. There is no doubt this is going to be a very difficult fight against Floyd Mayweather, but I am very prepared for this fight.
“There is no doubt that Floyd Mayweather has a great defense, but I have a great attack and that is what I will use.
“I need to do the same thing that I did with (previously unbeaten Adrien) Broner. I need to go out from the get-go and attack him. I know it will be more difficult with Floyd Mayweather but I am ready.
“I am surprised and shocked at the same time seeing all the press that has been following me but I am very tranquil and prepared."
When asked what the best moment of his career has been thus far, Maidana said, “The best moment is the (fight with Victor) Ortiz."
After losing all five of his amateur fights against Belmontes, Figueroa (23-0-1, 17 KOs), of Weslaco, Texas, got his revenge in his first world title defense, outpointing Belmontes (19-4, 5 KOs), of Corpus Christi, Texas, by the scores of 118-110, 116-112 and 113-115.
“He gave me more than trouble,’’ Figueroa said. “He wouldn’t make a fight out of it. I’m sorry to the fans. It was more of a sparring match than a fight. I prepared so much and this was the outcome.
“He almost made me cry again but of laughter saying he was going to beat me. I prepared well. I came 100 percent. I knew he was going to run. My hands are a little sore but nothing bad, nothing crazy. Now take my time off. I have been training since January. But it is up to Al Haymon.”
Said Belmontes: “Honestly, I thought I won the fight. I thought I landed the clearer more effective shots. I don’t fight like that (running) but sometimes I pay attention to the fans when they are booing so I went inside and fought like a Mexican warrior. He couldn’t handle my jab. He couldn’t’ handle me on the outside. I thought I won the fight.”
In the featured match on SHOWTIME EXTREME, talented, world-ranked junior middleweight Jermall Charlo (18-0, 14 KOs), of Houston, dominated Albuquerque’s Hector Munoz (22-13-1, 14 KOs) en route to a fourth-round TKO.
“I just tried very hard,’’ said Charlo after the one-sided proceedings were stopped. "Two camps in, I was hungrier than ever. I am hungrier than any fighter. I want to go on to bigger thing so badly. I credit Munoz for taking the fight. He showed a lot of spirit. But I had him. I’m so ready for the next level. I need it.’’
In other SHO Extreme results, undefeated Joseph Diaz Jr. (10-0, 7 KOs) won all six rounds in a decision over veteran Luis Maldonado (38-12-1, 29 KOs), of Calexico, Calif., and unbeaten super welterweight Terrell Gausha of Cleveland improved to 9-0 (five KOs) with an eight-round shutout over Charles Whittaker (40-15-2), of Winter Haven, Fla.