Eye injury behind him, Matthysse ready for comeback

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Lucas Matthysse earned the nickname “The Machine” because he had been systematically destroying opponents.

Between 2012 and 2013 the Argentina slugger ripped through opponents such as Lamont Peterson, Mike Dallas Jr., Olusegun Ajose and Humberto Soto, knocking them all out in dominant fashion. Even after he lost a decision in an upset to Danny Garcia in a junior welterweight world title fight, Matthysse came back to win three more fights in a row, knockouts of John Molina Jr., Roberto Ortiz and a decision against iron-chinned Ruslan Provodnikov.

The victory over Provodnikov set the stage for a fight against Viktor Postol for a vacant junior welterweight world title. Matthysse was the favorite, but after a very tough fight, Postol knocked him out in the 10th round.

Matthysse suffered a broken orbital bone/eye injury and took a lot of punishment in the fight. That was in October 2015, and he has not fought since.

But refreshed and refocused, Matthysse, one of boxing’s most exciting fighters, will launch his comeback after the 19-month layoff, returning as a welterweight to take on veteran Emmanuel Taylor on Saturday night (HBO PPV, 9 ET) on the Canelo Alvarez-Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. undercard at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

“I think I got him at the perfect time. You know, he’s coming off of a KO loss, eye injury. I think I caught him at the right time right now, because a long layoff, like you said. It’s perfect timing for me. Perfect.”

Emmanuel Taylor

Matthysse (37-4, 34 KOs), 34, a former interim titleholder, said he is raring to go and that the time off was good for him.

“I never once thought about retiring,” Matthysse said through a translator. “I just needed a deep rest after the Postol fight, so I went back home and took the time I needed to be with family. I drove my motorcycle, went fishing, and just reflected.

“I am proud of the career that I have made. I am a South American fighter coming from a province in Argentina who has made himself known in America. It is a privilege to be back on such a card like this, and my goal is to continue to be in the sport, on track for a championship. I am ready to jump back in.”

Matthysse said his orbital bone and eye have healed well and that he is back 100 percent and excited to show the fans that he is back in good form.

“I feel confident there’s not going to be any problems with the eye. I had a training camp in Argentina and I was training out there and I had nothing wrong with it,” he said. “I got hit plenty of times there. I feel confident that there’s not going to be any problems with the eye.”

Besides coming off the long layoff, moving up in weight and overcoming the injury, Matthysse will also enter the fight with a new trainer in Joel Diaz.

After training some in Argentina, Matthysse moved his base to Diaz’s gym in Indio, California, and said things went well.

“I wanted something different, and I came out here to work with Joel Diaz,” Matthysse said. “He was recommended, and so far, it’s been great. We’ve been working really great and I’ve been learning a lot.”

For a guy off as long as Matthysse has been plus the injury and rise in weight, it would not have been a surprise to see him face a lesser opponent in his return. While Taylor (20-4, 14 KOs), 26, of Edgewood Arsenal, Maryland, is not a top contender, he is a vastly experienced fighter who has been against several quality opponents, including Adrien Broner, Antonio Orozco, Karim Mayfield, Chris Algieri and Victor Manuel Cayo.

Since back-to-back decision losses to Broner (2014) and Orozco (2015), Taylor has won two fights in a row, knockouts against sub-.500 opponents in 2016.

“I feel confident there’s not going to be any problems with the eye … I got hit plenty of times there. I feel confident that there’s not going to be any problems with the eye.”

Lucas Matthysse

“Look, it’s a comeback fight, but Emmanuel Taylor is a tough fight. It’s not an easy fight,” Matthysse said. “He’s a fighter with a lot of experience. He’s a tough fighter. After this fight, I’ll sit down with my team, my promoter and see what’s next.”

Should all go well on Saturday, Matthysse and Golden Boy Promotions see him inserting himself into the title picture in a deep welterweight division.

“I’m willing to fight anybody. I always want to fight the best,” he said.

The welterweight division includes fighters such as titleholder Manny Pacquiao, unified titlist Keith Thurman, titleholder Kell Brook as well as fighters such as Garcia, Timothy Bradley Jr., Errol Spence Jr. and Shawn Porter.

“I feel very capable at this weight class. I feel that I have a lot of confidence in myself,” Matthysse said. “I’m feeling really good at this weight class, so I can challenge anybody. I would love to fight Danny Garcia again, or I’ll fight against Thurman, whoever it is. I feel very capable at this weight class.”

Taylor realizes, of course, that he is the underdog and knows that it would be a big deal to pull the upset. But he sounded confident.

“Lucas is a great fighter, real strong, real durable,” Taylor said. “I’m looking forward to this fight. I’ve been training hard, working hard, and this means everything in the world to me. I’m just really excited for this opportunity.

“I think I got him at the perfect time. You know, he’s coming off of a KO loss, eye injury. I think I caught him at the right time right now, because a long layoff, like you said. It’s perfect timing for me. Perfect.”

Golden Boy Promotions wants to see what Matthysse shows against Taylor but it hopes he prevails and can move him into a bigger fight.

“Look, obviously we’re not looking past Emmanuel Taylor. Emmanuel is a very tough guy,” Golden Boy president Eric Gomez said. “I was involved in the Adrien Broner fight and also in the [Orozco] fight and he put a great fight with both fighters. Depends how [Matthysse] looks. If he struggles, then he might need a tune up after this fight.

“And [if] he looks sensational and great, then we’re going to sit down and go after any of the champions. Lucas Matthysse has a great name. He’s a fan friendly fighter. The TV networks love him. He’s been on HBO, Showtime a number of times. Any of the champions would love to fight him and it would be a great fight because of his style. So it really depends on this fight. We’ll see how he does.”

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