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.’’