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The Ice Man Cometh

By Michael Montero: The StubHub center is in Carson, California, but on this night one could have mistaken the location for Buenos Aires, as a significant Argentinian contingent showed up to cheer for Lucas Matthysse in his fight against Ukraine’s Victor Postol for a vacant junior welterweight title. In the co-feature, undefeated Antonio Orozco took on cagey veteran Humberto Soto in an all Mexican ten round contest. It was another great doubleheader from HBO Boxing, which is having a spectacular year.

The height difference between Postol and Matthysse was evident from the opening bell. The much taller Postol, working with trainer Freddie Roach, attempted to tie up his opponent every time he lunged in.

Argentina’s Matthysse, the much harder hitter of the two, stalked forward and pressured his opponent, landing punches wherever he could, included the back of the head. Postol was frustrating Matthysse with his movement, his holding and his pot-shots from the outside. Even though the Ukrainian’s punches were straighter, Matthysse’s punches made a significantly greater impact. The early rounds were close and it was a difficult fight to score halfway through. With all of the grappling, pushing and fouling, both fighters were keeping referee Jack Reiss fairly busy. Late in the sixth Matthysse finally got through with a big shot, landing a flush fight hand that pushed Postol back. In the seventh round another big shot wobbled the Ukrainian’s legs, and it appeared the “the machine” had finally hit full speed. But Postol would not only weather the storm, he would raise his game to another level.

In the eighth Postol seemed to take over, landing combinations from the outside to clearly win the round. It was more of the same in the ninth round. The judges agreed with this writer, as all three scored the eighth and ninth for the Ukrainian. Matthysse’s facial expression was frustrated and disheartened heading into the championship rounds. Late in the tenth Postol landed a short, straight right hand that dropped Matthysse, to the shock of the partisan crowd. The power punching slugger appeared more mentally defeated than physically hurt, and even though it seemed he could of made it to his feet, Jack Reiss reached the count of ten. Postol put the 140lb division on blast by stopping one of its biggest stars in front of a hostile crowd and collecting a vacant title in the process.

At the time of the stoppage the scores were 86-85 for Matthysse and 86-85 twice for Postol. The punch stats told the story, as Postol threw more than three times the amount of jabs than Matthysse. The Machine landed 82 of 198 power shots and Postol was 77 of 242. The difference was that Postol’s shots were straighter. He had better focus, better stamina, a better game plan and the Ukrainian just seemed to want it more. No doubt having veteran trainer Freddie Roach in his corner didn’t hurt. For Roach, he guided yet another fighter to a world title in his storied career. Postol remained undefeated at 28-0 (12Ko) while Matthysse dropped to 37-4 (34KO) and may never be the same again.

In the co-feature, Antonio Orozco scored the most impressive win of his pro career to date, defeating Humberto Soto by unanimous decision. This fight got off to a great start, with both men slinging leather from the onset. The much younger Orozco stalked forward while the more experienced Soto looked to set traps. Even though Soto spent the bulk of his career fighting between 126-135 pounds, he surprisingly measured up well against Orozco, who has fought his entire career at 140. After a blistering pace over the first first few rounds, the fighters settled in the middle rounds and began to be more selective with their punches. Especially Soto, who was making Orozco miss here and there. It was clear that the plan was to take his younger opponent deep into the fight and make him exert himself in the process.

Early on it felt like Orozco was doing the better work, but later on it appeared that Orozco was slowing down just a tad and the fight was evening up. Toward the end of the ninth Orozco landed a left hook to the body that seemed to connect right on the beltline. Soto fell to the canvas claiming it was a low blow. The ref bought it, and docked the youngster a point. The call was a bit premature and unnecessary, especially in such a close fight. Feeling a sense of urgency, Orozco came out guns blazing in the final round, but Soto landed several hard counter shots that slowed him down. It was a competitive bout right up until the final bell, yet it seemed that Orozco had done a little more. The judges scored 98-91 and 97-92 twice for Orozco, and many in the crowd booed the decision. Not because the wrong man won, but because those cards were too wide. None the less, the young prospect improved to 23-0 (15KO), while Soto fell to 65-9-2 (35KO).

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