For most "star" fighters, Lucas Matthysse and Victor Postol have long been atop the "fighters to avoid" list. Matthysse's massive one-punch power and Postol's high-volume, long-range boxing are the cause, so it's natural they'd be meeting each other for a vacant 140-pound belt vacated by one high-profile fighter who did meet (and defeat) Matthysse, Danny Garcia. Both will be gunning for their first major belt as well as creating their own star.
A Bad Habit Broken: Matthysse had long been among the sport's slowest starters. In four of the last five fights before meeting John Molina, Matthysse had averaged 38.3 punches in the first round, well below the 59.5 junior welterweight average. But in his last three fights against Molina, Roberto Ortiz and Ruslan Provodnikov, Matthysse has started far more quickly and reached a peak against "The Siberian Rocky." Matthysse went 23 of 71 in round one and averaged 96.4 per round through the first seven while limiting the volume-punching Russian to just 59.4 in the same period. During that stretch Matthysse led 230-120 overall, 78-24 jabs and 152-96 power and appeared to be headed for a lopsided victory. But in rounds 8-12 the fight changed, not because Matthysse slowed his work rate so much (from 96.4 to 71.8) but because Matthysse was landing less and Provodnikov was connecting more. In those rounds Provodnikov upped the pace to 67.8 per round and out-landed Matthysse 60-42 in power shots. Matthysse got the majority decision win because he did just enough overall (97-81) and in jabs (55-21) to keep the avalanche from running him over. Against the porous Provodnikov, Matthysse led 47%-28% in power shots, including 51% in the first seven rounds. Needless to say, he won't get anywhere near those numbers against the Russian he'll meet Saturday.
Sticking It To Opponents: The jab is the centerpiece of Postol's offense. Over his last four CompuBox-tracked fights (Jake Giuriceo, Selcuk Aydin, Behzod Nabiev, Hank Lundy) it comprised 54.8% of his total output (41.3 of 75.4 punches) and 41% of his connects (9 of 22). Postol was at his best two fights ago against Selcuk Aydin as he averaged 100.5 punches per round, created massive connect gaps of 395-118 overall, 160-47 jabs and 235-71 power and scored an 11th round TKO. The jab was at the center of it all (56.5 thrown/14.5 connects per round) as his output more than doubled the 24.6 junior welterweight average and nearly tripled the 5.0 division norm. Against Giuriceo in April the numbers weren't as dramatic but they were still impressive (84.1 punches per round, connect leads of 222-100 overall, 93-24 jabs and 129-76 power; percentage gulfs of 33%-19% overall, 28%-12% jabs and 38%-24% power). The jab again was masterful (41.1 thrown/11.6 connects per round) and it helped keep the determined Giuriceo at bay (26.1 thrown/3 connects per round). He'll need to duplicate this blueprint to win.
Prediction: If Postol is allowed to find his long-range rhythm, Matthysse will suffer. But because Matthysse's power can surface at any time, he'll score a come-from-behind TKO.