TODAY’S announcement that Daniel Dubois will fight Kevin Johnson is somehow both encouraging and confusing.
It’s encouraging because Dubois, a 20-year-old with just eight pro fights to his name, could so easily have picked a softer (read: less experienced) touch for his next fight on October 6 at the Leicester Arena. In no hurry, he could have found someone hard to pronounce and begging to be knocked out; someone who won’t tie him in knots, verbally, during fight week. That much is a given.
It’s confusing, however, because Dubois, in picking Johnson, has gone one better than Tyson Fury, a 29-year-old former undisputed world heavyweight champion, who is set to go through the motions on August 18 against Francesco Pianeta, a man knocked out in seven rounds by Johnson last year.
Which is to say, for as decent a matchup as this is for Daniel Dubois, it also shines a light on how poor Fury’s second comeback fight on August 18 happens to be.
— Daniel Dubois (@DynamiteDubois) August 2, 2018
Chances are, Dubois vs. Johnson ends up being a shrewder bit of matchmaking – and a better fight – than Fury vs. Pianeta. It’s shrewd because Johnson, now 38 years of age, has lost 10 fights in a 15-year pro career, and since stopping Pianeta, in 2017, has been stopped himself by unbeaten Croatian Petar Milas in March and then, last time out, was widely outpointed by Andy Ruiz Jr.
“He’s got good credentials and has been in with pretty much everyone,” said Dubois. “I’m sure it’ll be a good challenge,” Dubois said. “I train very hard in the gym, I’m improving all the time as a fighter. I’ve still got a bit of time, a bit of learning to do. But I’m not far off at all.”
Johnson will bring all his experience, no question, and should still be tricky enough to give Dubois a momentary headache or two, but the concern is that the American’s punch resistance, once a calling card, is now on the wane. If true, if a second-round knockout to Anthony Joshua in 2015 was less a blip and more an indication of his toughness ebbing away, there’s every chance Dubois could become the third man to stop him.
You’d be forgiven for thinking Argentinean puncher Lucas Matthysse had retired moments into a July fight with Manny Pacquiao, so dispirited was his demeanour, so sub-par was his performance. But he hadn’t. He was merely past his best, a ‘shot’ fighter, and his struggles with balance and diminishing punch resistance resulted in a seventh round stoppage loss and led to a crucial decision.
That decision, to officially retire, has been made today.
“Thanks to boxing, the sport changed my life,” said Matthysse, 39-5 (36). “I’m proud to have come from Trelew, Chubut and be able to leave boxing on my terms. I’d like to thank my family and my coaches over the years.
“I have fought many tremendous boxers over the years and represented Argentina with good and bad results, but these have been great experiences in my life that I will always remember.
“I left Trelew at 21 years old and spent 11 great years of my career in Junin. Today, and at 35 years, I find my way back to my home, my place in the world.
“I am so proud to have maintained my status at the top of the sport for 10 years and fought some of the best fighters at world level. I fulfilled my dream of being a world champion and would like to say thanks to my family, especially the woman I love. We spent many days where I suffered so much but those bad parts where just part of the journey.
“Thanks to all those who followed me in my career, for all their love in the most beautiful sport of boxing. I have enjoyed it so much.
“Today, I decide to hang up the gloves and begin another stage in my life. Coming from Trelew, Chubut in Argentina, Lucas Martin Matthysse is proud to have represented my province and my country and my neighbourhood.
“I retire from boxing with a big thank you to all the people I met along the way.”
Forget the Pacquiao performance. Forget, too, the Viktor Postol loss in 2015 and the couple of so-so performances sandwiched between. Instead, remember Lucas Matthysse as the ‘The Machine’, the brutal and entertaining punching who spooked the super-lightweight division from 2011 to 2013. A short prime, admittedly, yet anyone who witnessed him during this period – and all who happened to be in his firing line – can attest to the former two-weight champion’s power and poise.
In 2013, I was fortunate enough to watch, from ringside, Matthysse knock Mike Dallas Jr. out cold in the first round of a fight at the Hard Rock Hotel, Las Vegas, and a scarier puncher – the sounds, the impact, the immediate fear – you’d be hard-pushed to find.