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Matthyse vs. Kiram: Lucas confident of winning WBA 147lb title

By Jim Dower: Lucas Matthysse (38-4, 35 KOs) likes his chances of beating unbeaten Tewa Kiram (38-0, 28 KOs) to win the vacant WBA World welterweight title this month on January 27 on HBO Boxing After Dark at The Forum in Inglewood, California.

(Photo redit: Tom Hogan-Hoganphotos/Golden Boy Promotions)

Matthysse and Kiram will be fighting for the World Boxing Association’s secondary 147 lb. title. Some call it the WBA ‘regular’ welterweight belt. Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman holds the WBA’s main 147 lb. title, which is called the ‘Super World’ belt. The WBA sanctioning body is supposed to be reducing the number of titles they have in each division, but they haven’t yet gotten to the welterweight division as of yet. That’s a good deal for the 35-year-old Matthysse, as if not for the WBA letting him fight Kiram for their vacant ‘regular’ 147lb. belt, he would be waiting in a long line for a title shot against Thurman. Kiram is rated #1 and Danny Garcia #2 with the WBA. Matthysse would have likely had to wait until 2019 at the earliest to get a fight against Thurman, and that’s if the Florida native wasn’t dealing with another one of his routine injuries.

”Training camp has been excellent. I did a little bit of training in Argentina before coming here to Indio,” said Matthysse. ”I know that Tewa Kiram is a hard puncher and can fight on the outside, but on Jan. 27, I’ll become world champion,” said Matthysse.

The jury is still out on precisely how hard the 25-year-old Thailand native Kiram hits. He’s never tested his punching power against an upper tier welterweight during his 10-year pro career. For starters, it’s hard to believe that Kiram has been fighting as a pro since he was 15-years-old. When you look at the knockouts that Kiram has accumulated while just a teenage boy, it’s hard not to discount those victories as being meaningless. Kiram likely wouldn’t have done well if he’d been forced to fight the same guys that Matthysse has fought at a young age.

Matthysse is vastly more experienced than Kiram. The power may or may not be for real with Kiram. We’ll find that out on January 27 when he gets inside the ring with Matthysse at The Forum in Inglewood, California. What we do know is Kiram has not fought the same level of opposition as the 35-year-old Matthysse, and that could be an obstacle to him winning the fight. In the pro ranks, a fighter has got to take the prerequisite fights for them to exceed at the top level. The only time fighters are able to steer around their requirement is when they’ve come from an excellent amateur background. Kiram didn’t have an amateur background, and he’s not fought the best fighters as a pro. Kiram has fought a lot of weak fighters in record-padding fights.

”I’ve beaten the best at 140 pounds, and now I’ll beat the best at 147 pounds,” said Matthysse. ”A win against Kiram will put me at the top of the division.”

Matthysse has losses against the best at 140 in defeats to Devon Alexander, Zab Judah, Danny Garcia and Viktor Postol. Those were easily the best 3 fighters he faced in his career. Matthysse’s losses to Alexander and Judah were both controversial decision defeats that could have gone his way. Matthysse was outclassed by Postol and Garcia.

Matthysse’s best wins have come against Ruslan Provodnikov, John Molina Jr., Ajose Olusegun, Humberto Soto, Lamont Peterson, Emmanuel Taylor and DeMarcus Corley.

On the same card on January 27, WBA lightweight champion Jorge Linares (43-3, 27 KOs) fights Mercito Gesta (31-1-2, 17 KOs). In addition to having his WBA 135-lb. title on the line, Linares will be defending his WBC Diamond and Ring title against Gesta. This fight is a little less interesting on paper than the Matthysse vs. Kiram fight, because Gesta has been selected in a voluntary defense for Linares.

Sometimes champions challenge themselves when they make voluntary defenses by facing good opponents. Unfortunately, most of the time champions take weaker contenders when making a voluntary defense. In this situation, Linares has taken an easy option in 30-year-old Gesta. That doesn’t mean that Gesta doesn’t have a chance of winning the fight. He’s got as much chance as anyone in beating the 32-year-old Linares. Gesta’s chances of winning come down to him having a puncher’s chance. That’s how it is.

Linares should win this fight without any problems unless Gesta can land a big punch that hurts Linares. We’ve Linares knocked out in the past early in his fights with Juan Carlos Salgado and Sergio Thompson. Those matches took place many years ago before Linares was as experienced as he is now. It’s not as easy to blitz Linares from the start of his fights as it was when he fought Salgado and Thompson. But since it happened twice to Linares, you can’t entirely rule out Gesta being able to do the same thing to him if he’s able to get to him right away.

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