Mayweather-Ortiz Undercard Takes Shape With Alvarez-Gomez, Morales-Matthysse and Vargas-Lopez

September 17 is shaping up to be a memorable night of boxing, with three additional marquee fights from two locations supporting the mega-fight between Floyd Mayweather and Victor Ortiz at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Canelo Alvarez vs. Alfonso Gomez

Photo: Hoganphotos.comImmediately preceding the main event, fast-rising phenom and WBC Super Welterweight World Champion Canelo Alvarez (37-0-1, 27 KOs) will take on Alfonso Gomez (23-4-2, 12 KOs) at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Gomez isn't at all intimidated by Canelo's recent successes, including an emphatic 12th round TKO of Ryan Rhodes in his last fight. "I know Canelo trains hard and he is not a champion for nothing, but I have experience and I will be the champion of the world," Gomez says. "I am going to ruin all of their plans.  I am going to unleash this beast that is within me." Alvarez prefers to let his fists do the talking.  "I don't like to talk too much, so I’ll keep it short," he said at a recent Los Angeles press conference. "Everyone here knows the Mexican saying 'a dog that barks, does not bite.' On September 17, Alfonso Gomez will know who Canelo is."

 

Photo: Hoganphotos.com

Erik Morales vs. Lucas Matthysse

A legendary fighter and future Hall of Famer, "El Terrible" Morales (51-7, 35 KOs) continued his comeback after a three year layoff with a thrilling razor-thin majority decision loss to Marcos Maidana in a Fight of the Year candidate. Now he'll take on Maidana's equally hard-hitting countryman Lucas Matthysse (28-2, 26 KOs). Morales will be fighting for his own legacy as well as that of his country's—September 17 is Mexican Independence Day. "I am going to train harder than ever to make the Mexican people proud and to be victorious on September 17." But don't expect Matthysse to roll over. "I cannot wait to get in the ring and fight Erik Morales," Matthysse says.  "I will do anything and everything I can to walk away from this fight as a world champion."

 

Hoganphotos.comJessie Vargas vs. Josesito Lopez

Talented prospect Jessie Vargas (16-0, 9 KOs) turned a lot of heads with his performance against Walter Estrada on July 8. But Josesito Lopez (29-3, 17 KOs) plans to make a habit of derailing young fighters on the fast track, as he did against Mike Dallas Jr in January. "I haven’t lost a fight in over three years and I don't plan on losing this one," Lopez said at a Los Angeles press conference. "Jessie Vargas might be undefeated now, but he won't be after September 17.

 

CompuBox Analysis: Devon Alexander vs. Lucas Matthysse

One of boxing's most enduring story lines is the crossroads fight, an encounter pitting two combatants whose mission is not only winning but also winning the right to remain among the elite.

Such will be the case when Devon Alexander meets Argentine power-puncher Lucas Matthysse Saturday on Alexander's turf in St. Louis. "The Great" was far less than that in losing a 10-round technical decision to fellow belt-holder Timothy Bradley in January while Matthysse dropped a disputed split decision to Zab Judah last November. While Alexander nursed the wounds to his face and pride, Matthysse returned to Argentina just 10 weeks later and stopped ex-champ DeMarcus Corley in eight, scoring eight knockdowns along the way.

What must each man do to maintain his spot? Their CompuBox histories revealed the following strategic advice:

See more CompuBox analysis of Devon Alexander vs. Lucas Matthysse at HBO.com.

Devon Alexander and Lucas Matthysse Prepare to Showdown in the Show Me State

By Michael Gluckstadt

Photo: David Martin-Warr, Don King Productions, Inc.The Devon Alexander-Lucas Matthysse fight at the Family Arena in St. Charles, Missouri isn't until Saturday night, but at the event's final press conference, the boxers were already trading jabs.

Matthysse, the hard-hitting Argentine with a record one split decision shy of perfection, has been predicting a knockout all week. “Look, I traveled thousands of kilometers in training and flying here for this fight, and I didn’t come to take a picture with Don King," he said. "I came to beat Devon Alexander, and I will."

The extremely dangerous Devon Alexander hasn't taken too kindly to his opponents fight predictions. “Lucas say he gonna knock me out.  The last guy that said that to me [Juan Urango] got knocked out.  I don’t talk trash.  I let my hands do my talking for me.  Just like our T-shirts today say, ‘R-E-D-E-M-P-T-I-O-N’ is going to happen on Saturday night.”

Promoter Don King stood between the two men, taking it all in. "You see, this is the Show Me State," he said.  What does that mean?  It means these fighters can talk all they want today, but come Saturday night they are going to have to show everyone what they are made of.”

Devon Alexander Seeks to Shed Dreaded Label Against Hard-hitting Lucas Matthysse

By Michael Gluckstadt

The biggest lie we tell ourselves in sports-watching and commentary is that the athletes are actually substitutes for the viewer. We'd never abandon our team in the fourth quarter like LeBron James. Roberto Luongo just needs to pretend he's playing at home. We think we know what goes on inside their heads, but how could we possibly?

Nowhere is that lie more exposed than in boxing. Sure, it certainly looked like Devon Alexander quit in his last fight against Timothy Bradley. That he clenched his eyes a little too forcefully when the ring doctor told him, "If you can't open up your eyes, the evening's over." But having never been pummeled by the likes of Timothy Bradley for ten straight rounds, including at least three head butts to the face, well, we're not really in a position to say, are we?



On HBO.com, Eric Raskin takes a look at some fighters who've recently been branded as quitters. What he's found is that it doesn't always stick.

Two years after quitting against Maidana, [Victor] Ortiz silenced questions about his heart by winning a 12-round slugfest against previously unbeaten Andre Berto. Vitali Klitschko quit with a shoulder injury against Chris Byrd, was savaged by the American boxing media, and fought through a horrifying cut against Lennox Lewis with maximum bravery three years later. Robert Guerrero appeared to do against Daud Yordan what Alexander did against Bradley, welcoming a premature ending without actually verbally surrendering, and has made the two-round no-contest a faded memory with six straight victories since.

Can Alexander join their ranks? He has a tough task ahead of him. In the Fight Overview story, also on HBO.com, Nat Gottlieb reveals that Alexander's trainer Kevin Cunningham believes this test could be even more dangerous than the last one his boxer failed.

Taking on Matthysse with his 26 knockouts in 28 victories, certainly isn’t an easier task. In fact, Cunningham says, “This fight is more dangerous than Bradley, because Bradley did not have the knockout punch Matthysse has. After Bradley, we wanted to come back against the best guy we could, and we got the biggest puncher at 140 pounds.” Matthysse could also easily be undefeated; his only loss a split decision to Zab Judah, in which one point separated them on all three scorecards.

Does Alexander posses the mental toughness to come back from his first career defeat? To withstand an onslaught from a fighter who's only had three professional fights that didn't end with his opponent getting knocked out? Only one man knows for sure, and the rest of us will find out on Saturday night.