By Robbie Bannatyne: They say the facts don’t lie. But they can be deceiving, and at times, downright surprising. As was the case in the Light-Welterweight title bout between Danny ‘Swift’ Garcia and Lucas ‘Machine’ Matthysse, the penultimate fight on the Mayweather vs Alvarez undercard.
Despite being the challenger, Matthysse was a massive favorite to win the fight, but Garcia put on vintage display- mixing pure boxing with brawling- to rip up the script and retain his WBA and WBC titles making sure his unbeaten record remains intact.
As surprising as the outcome was, the compu-box fight statistics are even more astonishing and seem to separate some myths from the reality of what both men bring to the table.
Firstly, both fighters could barely be separated in terms of power punches thrown and landed. By compu-Box count, Garcia landed 174 out of 361 thrown to record a connect percentage of 48% whilst Matthysse was 153/346, (44%).
Despite Garcia being the busier fighter in the 1st 6 rounds of the bout in terms of punch output, it was actually Matthysee, who scored a higher connect rate in the 1st half of the fight in every round, barring the 4th. A massive number of these punches were power shots. Like many other casual observers, I thought that Garcia would have been blown away by this stage if Matthysse was able to inflict the sort of punishment on his opponent that the stats suggest he did. But the Champion not only absorbed his opponent’s best shots- he amply returned and initiated fire with the thunderously powerful Argentine challenger. The stats attest to his heart of a champion and his chin of iron- the same way they do for Matthysse’s.
These statistics also shatter the myth perpetuated by some prominent boxing writers that Garcia clinched his way to victory whilst running away from Matthysee for the most part of the fight. Quite frankly, that is a fallacy. Garcia did clinch a lot more during the course of the fight than he has done in any previous bout I have watched. But to stand in the pocket and trade for 12 rounds with such a murderous puncher as Matthysse would have been career suicide, especially with the stakes so high. A super fight with the ‘Face of Boxing’ Floyd Mayweather Jr. may indeed be his reward for winning the fight, so no-one can question his tactics. You can bet all the dollar bills in Vegas that Money Mayweather would have adopted a similar approach as Garcia had he been facing Matthysse as well.
A popular miss preconception about Matthysse is that he forgoes the jab in favor of firing the heavy artillery of his power shots. The statistics totally refute this claim- he actually out landed Garcia in the jab count by 5% (53/220). This stat also helps dispel another myth that Matthysse is merely a crude brawler who just likes to bang with his opponents. Again, this is simply not true. He is by no means a classic boxer, but he has a far more firm grasp of the fundamentals than most people would have you believe. But the fact he is such an explosive puncher tends to detract from his overall ability. This is a common mistake that is often made about Knockout artists such as the Argentine, who has 32 Ko’s from his 35 contests.
Although the facts are very revealing and insightful, they do account for the drastic change in trajectory of the fight. The twist in the tale, laced so handsomely with irony, was that it was the damaging effect of Garcia’s- not, as expected Matthysse’s- punching power that was the most decisive factor in the fight. After the horrendous swelling under the eye of Matthysse- the product of Garcia’s punishing blows- massively impaired his vision, making him unable to anticipate the shots of Garcia, it was role reversal as the Champion out landed Matthysse in the power shots department in every round after the 6th.
The final compu-box numbers show both fighters amassed a dead even connect percentage of 36% but, with Garcia landing 225 of 626 punches thrown in comparison to Matthysse’s 206 from 566.
So, ultimately, the facts don’t lie. They give a true account of how Garcia won the fight by throwing more punches and landing more punches. On the other hand, every picture tells a story. And the image’s of Matthysses’ horror injury tells that he was massively impaired in the 2nd half of the fight. Which, suggesting by the facts of the 1st half of the action, would have been different had he not suffered such a debilitating physical defect.
Still, Garcia turned in an immensely impressive performance- rich in maturity, class and composure. He appears to be a man who has all the scripts for the scenes. And the script may already be written for him to prove this on the biggest stage of all against the sports undisputed Pound for Pound King, Floyd Mayweather Jr., in May next year.
Irrespective of whether Garcia does indeed gets his dream showdown with Mayweather Jr., the ‘Manny Pacquaio vs Erik Morale I’ type, no holds barred war in the last minute of the fight between Garcia and Matthysse tells us that there are definitely some chapters which remain unwritten in the Garcia and Matthysse story.