By: William Holmes
Keith Thurman is considered by many to be the best welterweight in Golden Boy’s roster, but he’s been having difficulty in lining up a fight with a boxer who is considered a big draw. He tried to call out Paulie Malignaggi at a press conference last year, but Malignaggi instead chose to face Adrien Broner. Since then Thurman has gone on to face three decent opponents, but not great.
On Saturday, Keith Thurman will be facing a boxer who’s coming off of two straight losses.
Carson, California will be the host city for the Golden Boy promoted card on Showtime, and it will feature two title bouts as well as the return of Lucas Matthysse.
The following is a preview of all three televised bouts.
Omar Figueroa (22-0) vs. Jerry Belmontes (19-3); WBC Lightweight Title
The opening bout of the night is also probably the biggest mismatch of the night. Belmontes has lost two of his three bouts and three of his last five. It appears that the only reason this fight was made is so that Figueroa can avenge his amateur loss to Belmontes.
Both boxers are in their athletic prime. Figueroa will giving up about an inch and half in height but will have a four inch read advantage. Figueroa is also the much stronger puncher. Figueroa has stopped seventeen of his opponents, including three out of his last five fights. Belmontes hasn’t had a stoppage victory since 2010 and only has five knockouts on his ledger.
Figueroa made his name known with a twelve round decision over the iron chinned Nihito Arakawa in July of last year. It was an action packed bout that featured both boxers taking a lot of heavy blows, but Figueroa’s technique and harder punches led him to victory.
Figueroa has also defeated Abner Cotto, Henry Aurad, Ramon Ayala, and Michael Perez.
Belmontes biggest victory came in his last fight against the then undefeated Will Tomlinson last month on the Alvarez vs. Angulo undercard. Prior to that fight his biggest victory came against Joselito Collado in September of 2012. He does have three losses on his record, and they have all come within his last five fights.
Belmontes has lost to Francisco Vargas, Andrew Cancio, and Eric Hunter. It’s likely that he will also lose badly to Omar Figueroa.
Lucas Matthysse (34-3) vs. John Molina (27-3); Junior Welterweights
This might be the most competitive fight of the night, but on paper, it’s still a pretty big mismatch.
Lucas Matthysse is one of the hardest punchers in the junior welterweight division. He’s stopped thirty two of his opponents and his past ten victories have come by way of knockout.
He will be the shorter man inside the ring and will be giving up about three inches in reach, but he has campaigned in the junior welterweight division for much longer than Molina. Molina is a natural lightweight. Molina does have twenty two stoppages on his record, but most of those stoppages came in the lightweight division.
Matthysse will be looking to rebound from a tough decision loss to Danny Garcia in September of 2013. His other two losses were to Devon Alexander and Zab Judah, but those bouts could have been easily scored in favor of Matthysse.
Matthysse has also defeated the likes of Lamont Peterson, Mike Dallas Jr., Olusegun Ajose, and Humberto Soto. The biggest question for Matthysse will be how does he rebound from the first clear defeat of his career.
His opponent, John Molina, isn’t a pushover and shouldn’t immediately fold from the pressure of Matthysse. His biggest victories to date was an upset TKO over Mickey Bey in July of 2013 and another late TKO over Hank Lundy in July of 2010.
However, he has lost twice since 2012. A decision loss to Andrey Klimov in June of last year and a quick first round TKO to Antonio DeMarco in September of 2012.
Molina has shown that he can come on strong in the later rounds, and if he can handle the pressure of Matthysse early on he could make the fight interesting in the later rounds. But Matthysse will likely prove to be too big and too powerful for Molina, and he should emerge with the victory.
Keith Thurman (22-0) vs. Julio Diaz (40-9); WBA Interim Welterweight Title
Unfortunately for fight fans the main event of the night is also the night’s biggest mismatch. Diaz somehow got a title shot despite losing two fights in a row and three of his last six.
Thurman deserves a shot against a big name opponent. He has twenty knockouts to his record and fought three times in 2013 and four times in 2012. He has the amateur pedigree that most champions possess. He won six national championships as an amateur.
Thurman and Diaz are similar in height and reach, but Thurman is nine years younger than Diaz.
Every time Diaz has stepped up his level of competition he has failed. His biggest accomplishment as a professional was a draw to Shawn Porter in 2012. He later lost to Porter and has also lost to Amir Khan, Kendall Holt, Victor Cayo, Juan Diaz, Jose Luis Castillo, and other less impressive boxers.
Thurman doesn’t have that big time victory over a well-known opponent that is expected from champions, but that may be due to the fact not many people want to step in the ring with him. He has easily defeated the likes of Jesus Soto Karass, Diego Chaves, Jan Zaveck, Carlos Quintana, and Brandon Hoskins.
Anything other than a stoppage victory for Thurman will be disappointing. He’s itching for a shot at a big name opponent and an impressive victory on Saturday should lead him to that shot.