By: William Holmes
The biggest fight in years was supported tonight by a stacked undercard featuring a highly anticipated light welterweight matchup between Danny Garcia and Lucas Matthysse for the WBA and WBC title and a junior middleweight fight between Ishe Smith and Carlos Molina for the IBF title.
The opening bout of the broadcast was between Ashley Theophane (33-5-1) and Pablo Cesar Cano(26-3-1) in the welterweight division. As usual, for a major fight in Las Vegas, the attendance at the MGM Grand was sparse for the undercard.
Theophane came out by throwing the first punch of the night, but Cano countered by focusing on the body of Theophane. He stuck several jabs in the gut of Theophane and also landed several hard hooks below. Theophane looked a little slow and was wild with his punches in the first round.
Theophane was more active with his jab in the second round. He was sticking and moving and was able to cut Cano underneath his left eye. A left hook by Cano sent Theophane moving backwards in the middle of the second but Theophane snuck a right hand through Cano’s guard near the end of the round.
Cano had Theophane covering up early in the third round with an overhand right. A left hook by Cano had Theophane moving backwards to the ropes and on his bike. Cano was chasing Theophane around the ring for most of this round, but Theophane was able to survive.
Theophane recovered and fought well in the fourth round, but was wobbled by Cano in the fifth round from a right hand that landed cleanly on the chin. Theophane was wobbly and bouncing from corner to corner, but later connected with a hard left hook that sent Cano backwards. Theophane connected with a straight right hand at the end of the round and had blood coming from his nose.
The middle-to-late rounds were close and Cano seemed to have stepped off his gas pedal. Theophane outworked Cano in the sixth and seventh rounds but Cano picked up the pace again in the ninth and last round. Cano pounded Theophane in the last round and had Theophane wobbly as the fight ended.
The final scores resulted in a split decision and were 96-94 Theophane, 98-92 Cano, and 97-93 for Cano.
The next fight was between Ishe Smith (25-5) and Carlos Molina (21-5-2) for the IBF Junior Middleweight Title. Those who arrived late to the MGM Arena didn’t miss much if they missed this one.
Both fighters were orthodox and Smith seemed content to counter Molina whenever he came ahead. Molina was pressing forward and landed an occasional ,jab but no hard shots. Smith landed a low blow in the third round and got warned by the referee. In round five, Molina got warned for leaning with his head, and he was warned for rabbit punches in the seventh round.
Smith began to land his counter right hand more often in the middle to late rounds, and he was doing a good job smothering the punches of Molina. Molina still pressed the action, but he never had Smith in trouble.
This was a dirty, ugly, and boring fight and it was extremely difficult to score. The final scores were 117-111 for Molina, 116-112 for Smith, and 116-112 for the new IBF Junior Middleweight Champion: Carlos Molina.
The final fight on the undercard was between Danny Garcia (26-0) and Lucas Matthysse (34-2) for the WBA and WBC junior welterweight titles. This was a highly anticipated fight and could have headlined its own card. By the time this fight started, the arena was nearly full.
Both fighters looked relaxed in the first round and Garcia focused his jab on the body of Matthysse, who was able to land some hard shots on Garcia by the ropes. Garcia landed a short check left hook near the end of a very close opening round.
Matthysse started off the second round strong with a right cross to the body and a left hook. Garcia looked a little tentative inside the ring and looked like he was a little hesitant. Garcia, however, started to open up in the third round. and was landing crisp jabs and counter left hands.
Garcia really turned up the heat in the fourth round and tagged Matthysse with a left hook-right hook combination. Garcia also landed a hard right hand to the temple and had a great confidence-building round.
Garcia’s left hook almost landed at will from this point forward and he had the right eye of Matthysse nearly shut by the seventh round. Matthysse’s legendary hard punches didn’t seem to phase Garcia when they did land.
By the tenth round, Garcia looked to be comfortably in control and in the lead. Matthysse was able to rip some hard shots to the body of Garcia in the tenth round, but at this point he needed a knockout to win.
Matthysse came out like a raging bull in the eleventh round and hit Garcia so hard that his mouthpiece went flying outside of the ring. The fight was momentarily stopped so that Garcia could put his mouthpiece back in his mouth. The stoppage helped Garcia and he responded later by knocking Matthysse down with a glancing left hook into the ropes.
Matthysse continued to get tagged with combinations in the last round. He was hit with another low blow by Garcia and the referee was left with no choice but to deduct a point from Garcia. They exchanged wild combinations at the end, but Matthysse did not get the late knockout he desperately needed.
The final scores were 115-111, 114-112, 114-112 for Danny Garcia.