There’s a new champion in the junior welterweight division, and his name is Viktor Postol. Known for his ring generalship and sharp jab, Postol surprised everyone at the StubHub Center and those watching at home when he knocked out the Argentine power-puncher Lucas Matthysse in the 10th round on Saturday night.
Freddie Roach added to the list of champions he’s trained with Postol’s victory. That list is now somewhere near 30, eclipsing Roach’s own legendary tutor, Eddie Futch. Watching Roach work with Postol on the mitts leading up to the fight, it was clear how the team was going to approach Matthysse: manage distance with a fast and stiff jab, move away from danger with quick feet, and clinch when necessary (i.e., anytime Matthysse got close enough to wing one of his infamous power punches).
The night went according to plan. Better actually. Given that Danny Garcia (a great fighter, but by no means a polished boxer) was able to out-box Matthysse, then someone with the quick feet and discipline of Postol had a great chance of doing the same. But no one, myself included, would have ever thought Postol could knock out the gritty Argentine. Why? Simple: Postol had less than a 50% knockout percentage going into the fight, and Matthysse... well, we'd seen him go to hell and back (e.g., against John Molina Jr.) with his chin up to the challenge.
Be that as it may, Matthysse went down and stayed down after getting tagged by a solid, although not particularly menacing, right hand. Later, Matthysse explained that he didn't get back up, not because he was hurt, but because he went temporarily blind in his left eye and feared that he might suffer permanent damage if he continued.
For his troubles, Matthysse collected $500,000, while the victor (pun somewhat intended) only walked away with $90,000. Given how the fight unfolded, however, you can bet that those number will undoubtedly change in whatever fight these men sign up for next.
With the WBC's belt around his waist (vacated by Danny Garcia), Postol has some big-time opportunities to look forward to, potentially including Manny Pacquiao. The Ukrainian boxer said he's open to a fight with his fellow stablemate, but he's got to know that if that fight were to happen, his trainer would be cornering Pacquiao.
I would much rather see Postol get the opportunity to develop a tad further, both in skill and in name recognition before tackling the challenge of someone like Pacquiao. A unification bout with Terence Crawford (who holds the WBO belt), Jose Benavidez Jr. (the interim WBA belt holder) or perennial victim of bad decisions, Mauricio Herrera, would all be fine follow-up bouts for Postol. Whomever he's matched up against next, Postol's opponent would do well to try to find better ways of frustrating the disciplined boxer, or they might end up like Matthysse, a rung on Postol's climb up the boxing ladder.
A former college wrestler, Taekwondo black-belt, and wannabe boxer, Paul Navarro (aka Fight Like Sugar) is now a full-time lawyer, part-time fight scribe, and high school wrestling coach.