<
>

Matthysse aims for vacant title against Postol

For an explosive four-fight stretch during 2012 and 2013, Lucas Matthysse -- known as "The Machine" for good reason -- was as scary a fighter as there was in boxing.

He was destroying good opponents with ease. He smashed former two-division titleholder Humberto Soto. He became the first man to knock out granite-chinned contender Olusegun Ajose. He needed less than one round to dust Michael Dallas Jr. And he walked through reigning junior welterweight titleholder Lamont Peterson in three destructive rounds of a nontitle bout.

Although Matthysse, one of boxing's most fearsome punchers, held an interim world title, he had yet to get a chance to fight for a major belt. However, because of that four-fight stretch, he forced himself into a title fight as the mandatory challenger for Danny Garcia.

Matthysse, who to that point had knocked down every fighter he had ever faced and had never been knocked down himself, was a heavy favorite against Garcia when they met for his two world title belts and 140-pound supremacy in September 2013. But although Matthysse did some damage, Garcia not only won a close but well-deserved unanimous decision, he ended Matthysse's knockdown streak. He also floored Matthysse for the first time.

Since then, Matthysse has regrouped. He was won three fights in a row (two by knockout) and is coming off a majority decision against Russian banger Ruslan Provodnikov on April 18 in a tremendous battle that ranks as a bona fide fight of the year candidate. In 2014, Matthysse won an epic brawl against John Molina by 11th-round knockout in the Boxing Writers Association of America's Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier fight of the year.

Matthysse has again forced his way into another shot at a world title and aims to fulfill a lifelong dream against "The Iceman" Viktor Postol on Saturday in the main event of HBO's "Boxing After Dark" (10:15 ET/PT) at the StubHub Center in Carson, California. They will fight for one of the belts Garcia vacated this summer when he moved up to welterweight.

In the scheduled 10-round co-feature, up-and-coming junior welterweight Antonio Orozco (22-0, 15 KOs), 27, a native of Mexico living in San Diego, will take on the most prominent opponent of his career in former junior lightweight and lightweight world titleholder Soto (65-8-2, 35 KOs), 35, of Mexico, in what most expect to be an action-packed fight.

"This is a great opportunity for me. I want to win the title," Matthysse said through a translator. "Winning the title will elevate me to a different level in my career. It will give me a different name and another status in the boxing community. My inspiration is to be a world champion, to fight the best fights. That's inspiration for me.

"I have wanted to be a world champion since I was a little boy, and Saturday night I will have the chance to make this dream come true. I have prepared very well for this fight. I am in the best moment of my life."

Said Golden Boy CEO Oscar De La Hoya, Matthysse's promoter, "Taking that world title back to Argentina is very important for him. I believe he's the best uncrowned champion out there in the game today."

While winning a world title is paramount to Matthysse (37-3, 34 KOs), 33, of Argentina, there will be a potential great benefit to a victory besides just being able to wrap a pretty belt around his waste and securing a place in boxing history.

The great Manny Pacquiao is planning to fight in the first quarter of 2016 following his loss on May 2 to recently retired Floyd Mayweather in their welterweight championship fight and subsequent surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff.

Pacquiao is in need of a marketable opponent and while there are a few candidates, such as Amir Khan and Terence Crawford, Top Rank promoter Bob Arum has prominently mentioned Matthysse as a possibility for the fight.

De La Hoya would very much like to secure that fight for Matthysse, and now that Arum and De La Hoya are on friendly terms again, it is a realistic possibility.

"Lucas winning this title on Saturday night is a major deal for him, if he can do it. But by him winning impressively, I think he has a great shot at fighting Pacquiao," De La Hoya said. "Lucas Matthysse has expressed interest in moving up to 147 pounds and fighting Manny Pacquiao and Bob Arum threw Lucas' name out there. So this is a very important fight not only for the world title, which means a lot to him, but because of the fact that he can also fight Pacquiao next year."

Surely, a Pacquiao-Matthysse fight would be exciting given that both -- while capable boxers -- prefer to fight aggressively.

"People will be interested in the fight, that's for sure," De La Hoya said. "People know Lucas Matthysse. He has been in fights of the year, he has fought the better opposition. It makes total sense. It would do well on pay-per-view. It's a no-brainer. But Lucas has to win on Saturday."

Matthysse has heard that Arum mentioned him for a possible Pacquiao fight and it's a fight he said he wants. It means a lot of money and glory.

"I've heard that I've been mentioned," Matthysse said. "I would like that, but first I have to win this fight against Postol. It won't be easy. But if the Pacquiao fight comes, it comes. My main goal is to win this fight against Postol and then if the Pacquiao fight comes, we can talk business."

Matthysse is smart not to look past Postol (27-0, 11 KOs), 31, of Ukraine, a quality technical boxer with sneaky power, as evidenced by his titanic knockout of Selcuk Aydin in the 11th round in May 2014 in the world title eliminator that put him in position to challenge for the belt.

"I'm glad to be here; I've waited for this opportunity a long time," said Postol, who won a tune-up fight in April and has also sparred with Pacquiao. "I have been preparing for this fight like no other training camp I've had before."

Postol will be working with Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach, who also trains Provodnikov and Pacquiao, for the third fight and is confident of the upset. He certainly has the physical advantages -- he is 5-foot-11 and has a longer reach than the 5-6 Matthysse.

"I know how to stop him," Postol said. "Freddie Roach told me if I do what he says, we will win. The key is to be focused and not play his game. Matthysse is a great fighter. He can box inside and attack from the outside. There is danger in a fight like this. I like to box and move, but in this fight we need to fight and exchange.

"All of Ukraine is so excited about this fight. I came here to fight because America is the mecca of boxing. All the big stars are here. This is my third fight with Freddie, who now calls me his new favorite fighter. That's probably because I do everything he says. Freddie and I are together as one. We will win Saturday night."

Matthysse said he is familiar with Postol and knows it's going to be a much different fight than the one against Provodnikov.

"I have to cut off the ring against Postol. I have to get inside and punch hard to the body," Matthysse said. "It's a different style from the Provodnikov fight."

Different style or not, however, Matthysse said his focus is the same as always.

"I'm going for a knockout, like I always do," he said. "I want to win this title and I just want to please the fans."