Viktor Postol figured as a really difficult test for Lucas Matthysse, and Saturday night on HBO he went one better: He scored a massive knockout in the 10th round in one of those “arrival” performances that announced Postol is now the man to beat at junior welterweight.
It was a frustrating kind of performance though the first half: Postol was shoeshining and holding, but it was the right kind of bullshit to win rounds here and there. HBO got too aroused by all of it, but it was the kind of thing that was giving him a chance after a 1st round where Matthysse’s power seemed to make Postol skittish. Finally toward the end of the 6th, Matthysse began to fight angry. The 7th was a pounding, for much of it; a big right hand wobbled Postol, and Matthysse teed off on him.
Yet something changed again in that round, for both men. A head butt caused Matthysse enough anxiety that he wanted to stop and complain to the ref, then Postol wobbled Matthysse right back toward the end of the round. When Postol came out in the 8th with his best round yet — he was no longer slinging bullshit, and instead was dishing out ladle-fulls of smart boxing and power punching — Matthysse appeared deeply demoralized.
The 10th round brought a sudden end. Postol cleverly feinted, baiting Matthysse in and catching him with a full flush right hand. Matthysse reacted immediately like something physically was wrong; he pawed at his eye, and his nose gushed blood. He made no attempt to rise. After, he explained that he felt a “pop” in his eye, and his eyeball did look kinda funky.
This was just a really tough match-up for Matthysse, who has taken some punishment in the ring over the years and is now a ripe old 33. We can and should give much credit to Postol for this win, but we also must wonder whether Matthysse is at the end of his days as a top 140-pounder; he’s been hanging by a thread, a little.
We also must take note that when Postol suffered his greatest difficulty in that 7th round, he roused in himself the will to reverse his fortunes in that very same round, then had his best round of the fight in the 8th, then found a way to land the kind of punch that could combine the mental breakdown of Matthysse with a physical one. HBO had every interest in matching the winner of this fight with Terence Crawford, especially if it was the big-punching Matthysse. Little did we know that Postol would emerge as the more intriguing fight.
(Postol celebrates his win; via)