It's a title that has changed hands frequently over the last few years: The most feared fighter in boxing.
For a while it was Antonio Margarito, the big, burly welterweight whose size and power had many potential opponents coming up with excuses.
Then it was Paul Williams, whose freakish size (6-foot-1) for a 147-pounder made it nearly impossible to secure a big-money fight.
Today, that distinction, many would argue, belongs to Lucas Matthysse, the hard-hitting, hard-charging junior welterweight whose thudding power and relentless pressure make him an appealing opponent to, well, no one. His two career losses -- to Zab Judah in 2010 and Devon Alexander in 2011 -- were both controversial, both on his opponent's home turf and didn't have either rushing to give him a rematch.
On Saturday night, Matthysse (32-2) will defend his interim 140-pounds title against former prospect Mike Dallas Jr. at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas (Showtime, 10 pm). It's not the fight Matthysse preferred, but for now it's the only one he could get.
"I am a man of few words," Matthysse said. "I am in great shape and I am ready to fight. What else can I say? Bring it on. This is a very important fight for me not only to win but to look good."
Indeed, Matthysse needs to do more than win. Like Margarito and Williams before him, the only way Matthysse can draw opponents into the ring is through the lure of network dollars. Showtime loves him, and would be willing to invest even more money in him if he continues to impress. That means a big performance against Dallas (19-2), a light hitting former welterweight who was knocked out by Josesito Lopez in his biggest fight to date.
"I don't know very much about Dallas," Matthysse said in a radio interview. "I saw a video of him but that is about it, so I will go in the ring and adjust to what he does in the ring and take it from there. From what I have seen he is a good boxer. I won't underestimate him. Hopefully he comes to fight and not just stay away from me. Hopefully he tries to take the title from me so the fans get a great fight to watch."
Hopkins wants more
For more than 25 years, Bernard Hopkins has treated his body like a temple. He has eschewed alcohol, cigarettes and junk food of any kind. It has helped Hopkins, 48, achieve astonishing longevity in an unforgiving sport, longevity that was rewarded in 2011, when Hopkins beat Jean Pascal to become the oldest man to win a major title.
Can he do it again? Many expected -- hoped, maybe -- that Hopkins would retire after two disastrous outings against Chad Dawson. The first, in 2011, ended when Hopkins separated his shoulder in the second round, forcing a no-contest. The second meeting was worse, with Dawson putting on a boxing clinic in a lopsided unanimous decision win.
Still, Hopkins will fight on. On March 9th, he will challenge Tavoris Cloud for the IBF light heavyweight championship at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
"People can say what they want," Hopkins said. "I have broken records, quieted doubters and solidified my legacy. Now, I am going to do all of that again, but this time at the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn in front of a large crowd of people that understand and appreciate the sport."
You can't blame Hopkins for choosing to continue his career. He's healthy, a byproduct of a healthy lifestyle and a slick, defensive style that has prevented him from absorbing many heavy punches in his career. And Cloud is a brawler in the mold of Pascal, the type of opponent that Hopkins, even at this age, has been able to handle. But Cloud (24-0) also has big-time knockout power, having ended 19 of his fights early. If Hopkins has lost any of his elusiveness, Cloud could force him into an ugly retirement.
Five Questions...with heavyweight contender Bryant Jennings.
I expect to at least have a title shot this year. The heavyweight division has been wide open for a while now. I came and I walked through it. Now when I get here, people want to slow me down. Don't try to slow me down. Let's keep me moving. I just want to succeed and be the best in the world. America's heavyweight division is shallow. I'm trying to be the best in the world. Tyson Fury, David Price, Robert Helenius, Alexander Povetkin, those guys rep the world. I am just trying to be on that list.
From the Mailbag
Look at what Rosado did in 2012, Chris. He beat Jesus Soto-Karass, which at the time was considered a solid win. He knocked out Sechew Powell, a durable former world title challenger. Then he stopped Charles Whittaker, who is a lot better than most people think, to earn the IBF's No. 1 ranking at 154-pounds. I'm not saying Rosado is elite, but I do think he deserves a big fight at junior middleweight. And what has Angulo done to make you think he is bigger than Rosado? He has won a couple of low-level fights since being stopped by James Kirkland. Styles make fights and no one would disagree that Rosado-Angulo II would be a war in the ring.
You got me, Mike. All the indications I'm getting is that Mayweather will face Robert Guerrero on May 4th, possibly with Canelo Alvarez on the undercard, which would set up a showdown between Mayweather and Alvarez sometime in the fall. It's what Golden Boy Promotions wants, because it gets Guerrero a big payday and guarantees Alvarez two big paydays in 2013. But there is still a chance that Mayweather goes straight to Alvarez in May. That's clearly a much bigger fight, though Mayweather would have to pay Alvarez a premium, because if there is one thing we know about Canelo, it's that he is not going to get in the ring for short money.
There is no point, Tony. Kessler and Froch see the HBO dollars that Ward is poised to rake in and want a piece of it. To me, it's as simple as that. But I wouldn't want to see a rematch of either of those fights. I want to see Ward move up to 175-pounds. He has cleaned house at 168 and there are plenty of challenges waiting for him in the light heavyweight division.
Ten Things I Think, and yes, I'm ripping off Peter King