Danny Garcia-Lucas Matthysse fight at Verizon Center is in early planning stages


Lucas Matthysse punches Lamont Peterson in the third round on his way to a TKO win during their welterweight fight on Saturday night in Atlantic City. Matthysse knocked Peterson down three times, including twice in the third and final round. (Al Bello/GETTY IMAGES)
May 19, 2013

Minutes after Lucas Matthysse’s third-round knockout of District boxer Lamont Peterson on Saturday night at Boardwalk Hall, Golden Boy Promotions chief executive Richard Schaefer was barely able to contain his excitement when revealing preliminary plans for a blockbuster fight card in the nation’s capital featuring both principals.

With Verizon Center as the venue and Sept. 7 the target date, Schaefer and his team are in the early stages of assembling a main event matching Matthysse against Danny Garcia in a unification bout in the light welterweight division. The co-headliner would be Peterson against Zab Judah, formerly the undisputed welterweight champion of the world.

Matthysse vaulted to the top of the list to face Garcia when he landed two left hooks that sent Peterson to the mat. The second knockdown of the third round — following an earlier one in the second — prompted referee Steve Smoger to stop the fight at 2 minutes 14 seconds, dealing the International Boxing Federation junior welterweight champion the first loss of his career by knockout.

“He’s a good puncher of course,” Peterson said. “He had me hurt.

“I was hoping they didn’t stop the fight because I believe I can weather any storm, but of course the referee was going to look out for my best interests.”

It was the 32nd knockout for Matthysse (34-2), who landed more than twice as many power punches as Peterson (31-2-1, 16 KOs) in the non-title bout at a catch weight of 141 pounds. No belt was on the line because the IBF would not sanction a unification bout against an opponent with an interim championship.

Matthysse owns the World Boxing Council’s interim super lightweight title, making him a mandatory challenger to Garcia, the world No. 1 in the division. The Argentine slugger wanted to keep his belt rather than relinquish it and fight only for Peterson’s championship.

“Yes, it’s the fight I’ve been looking for, and we’ve talked about it,” Matthysse said through an interpreter. “I was told if I get past [Peterson] that there’s a likelihood that I would be fighting Danny Garcia, so yes, that’s what I want.”

Garcia became a fan favorite in Brooklyn during his last two bouts at Barclays Center and is almost sure to produce a lucrative gate when he fights there again, but that venue is booked Sept. 7, according to Schaefer.

With Boardwalk Hall also in use that day, Schaefer is turning his attention to Verizon Center, which last hosted championship boxing in 2005.

In the venue known then as MCI Center, former heavyweight champion of the world Mike Tyson lost to Kevin McBride on that card in what would be the final bout of his career.

The last major championship fight in the District took place Dec. 10, 2011, when Peterson beat Amir Khan, a Golden Boy fighter, via 12-round split decision to claim the IBF and World Boxing Association titles.

Peterson was not with Golden Boy at the time but since has joined the Los Angeles-based promotions team Oscar de la Hoya established in 2002.

“Why not D.C.?” Schaefer said. “It would be the capital showdown.”

Although Peterson is a proven draw in his home town, his future in the sport remains less certain. He had designs on Garcia, too, and after that a possible meeting with Floyd Mayweather, but Saturday night’s outcome presumably moves Peterson to the back of the line among the many challengers bidding for a fight against the pound-for-pound king.

In the days leading up to his fight against Matthysse, Peterson, 29, spoke about perhaps retiring in the not-too-distant future but first hoping to get a shot at Mayweather and the lucrative prize money that comes with any fight involving the world’s highest-paid athlete.

“Of course it would be a great feeling to fight at home,” said Peterson, who banked $800,000 Saturday night. “I always want to fight at home.

“I wanted [the Matthysse] fight to be at home, but of course you’ve got to be fair. You can’t have all home fights, but anytime I get a chance to, I’m all for it.”

Gene Wang is a sports reporter covering multiple beats, including Navy football, the Capitals, Wizards, Nationals, women’s basketball, auto racing, boxing and golf. He also covers Fantasy Football.
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