There was nothing underwhelming – or undercard worthy – about Matthysse vs Molina on April 26th, 2014. Matthysse won via an 11th round TKO in his co-feature bout prior to headlining act Keith Thurman vs Julio Diaz. What played out was a gutsy, bloody, back-and-forth war between two iron-forged gladiators. And that’s no exaggeration.
Going into the fight, Lucas Matthysse (35-3, 33 KO) was the notorious puncher with fight-ending power in both hands. With a knockout record exceeding 80%, which includes a third round TKO of Lamont Peterson, he is an absolute beast at Junior Welterweight. However, Matthysse suffered a career setback after losing to boxer-puncher Danny Garcia in September, 2013.
Then we have Californian, John Molina (27-3, 21 KO), a well-respected yet little known contender. A lack of high-caliber opposition and an ugly first round TKO to Antonio Demarco made him a heavy underdog. Most analysts considered him a tune-up for Argentine wrecking machine, Matthysse.
That’s how the fight read on paper. But boy can that paper be wrong.
Matthysse vs Molina: The Fight
As the opening round got underway, it was clear Molina was the taller fighter equipped with longer reach. The crowd was waiting for Matthysse to warm up and start his onslaught when Molina suddenly landed a big right cross that shook Matthysse, sending him trailing backwards. Matthysse survived the ensuing attack, only to recover and stagger Molina before the round was through.
An unscripted war had broken out, and it was clear Molina was no ‘tune-up’. He had come to win – and the man could punch.
Matthysse, now fired up, hunted his man in the 2nd round and started to throw bombs. Molina was trapped in the corner, seemingly in trouble and about to taste the canvas. But no – he landed a thunderous right-cross on Matthysse, and seconds later, a short-right counter. Mattyhsse was down again, hurt, and in a dangerous fight.
Matthysse survived the round and came out with greater urgency in the third, but was dominated once again. Mid-round, Matthysse opened up a bad cut on his left eye following an accidental head clash.
In the 4th, Matthysse was eager to close the show. Both fighters tasted leather in a big exchange, demonstrating a pair of granite chins. Molina, who appeared to have a nasty wound behind his head (possibly from the head clash in the 3rd), finished the round strong by throwing bombs at Matthysse on the ropes.
Matthysse landed a huge right in the fifth and seemed like he could close the show. But Molina came back to fire some heavy shots of his own, and went on to knock down Matthysse with another short-right counter. Once again, the Argentine survived the round.
Matthysse was able to dominate the 6th, despite taking another knee-buckling right from Molina in the closing seconds. The 7th and 8th saw relentless back-and-forth exchanges center ring; Matthysse vs Molina had now become a war of attrition. So heavy were the shots that an unidentified white object – likely a tooth or section of mouth guard – flew out of Molina’s mouth. Molina was dropped from a vicious Matthysse uppercut and right hand, but the tough Californian found his feet and fought on.
The 9th saw a dramatic change in the fight. Matthysse brutalized his opponent, landing shots that would have derailed the senses of any ordinary fighter in an instant. Molina’s cut started to flow and spread, tanning his face and body red with blood.
After Matthysse unleashed a barrage of pain on Molina in the 10th, trapping him on the ropes, Molina went down for the second time. It was now clear Molina was taking serious punishment, and that the end was drawing near for this warrior.
In between rounds, Molina’s trainer, Joe Goossen, tried to revive his fighter, but almost came to blows with a ringside doctor who intervened to assess the fighter’s wellbeing. As if Matthysse vs Molina didn’t have enough drama already…
Matthysse sensed victory going into the 10th and landed 7-8 savage shots to the head of Molina. The punches landed so sickeningly clean that there could only be one outcome. Seconds later, Molina finally wilted against the ropes and dropped to the canvas, prompting the referee to wave off the contest.
The war was now over. And the crowd could finally catch their breath.
After Molina found his feet, it was a relief to see both fighters finally exchange words of respect rather than punches. Both had put on a hell of a show and fought like true gladiators. (Matthysse vs Molina Boxing Highlights)
Matthysse vs Molina: What’s Next?
Molina will surely go on to fight on a major card after performing in this Fight of the Year candidate. Despite being relatively unknown to fans prior, he just came awfully close to toppling one of boxing’s biggest fan-friendly fighters, showcasing remarkable grit and unwavering courage in the process.
As for Matthysse, we’ve learned a great deal more about him through the most grueling bout of his career. If questions existed beforehand of his heart when placed deep in the trenches, they have swiftly been answered. Matthysse has superb recovery powers and remains a serious threat even after being dropped multiple times – and that makes him one dangerous fighter.
His flaws also can’t be ignored; Matthysse’s kryptonite seems to be boxer-punchers. First Danny Garcia, now John Molina. Both excellent movers, thinkers – and of course, bangers. Potential future opponents will have certainly taken note of both knockdowns – all the result of short-right counters to the temple.
A smart business move would be to re-challenge Danny Garcia. The fight would be hugely marketable, not just to Mexico and Argentina, but fans worldwide. Short of moving up to Welterweight and gunning for a Floyd Mayweather super fight, a clash with another wrecking machine, also known as Ruslan Provodnikov, would also make big dollars. Now that would be a mouth-watering match-up.
And of course, let’s not forget about Matthysse vs Molina II. Again, surely big dollars, and another big win for fans. But will either fighter be eager to take it? Given the unfolding narrative of their first encounter, picking a winner would be no easy task – but you can bet Molina would be taken a heck of a lot more seriously in the rematch.
What did you think of the evening’s Matthysse vs Molina matchup? Does it enter your list of greatest toe-to-toe wars? Following the win, will Matthysse get a second chance at glory against conqueror, Danny Garcia?
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