One of the gifts that has allowed veteran boxing publicist Bill Caplan to remain employed well into his 80s is his creativity, which was recently on display as he told an interesting story about Argentinian boxer Lucas Matthysse, who was training in Indio for what will be his third — and perhaps last — opportunity to win a world title.
With Matthysse in pursuit of the vacant World Boxing Assn. welterweight belt against Thailand's Tewa Kiram (38-0, 28 knockouts) in the HBO-televised Saturday night main event at the Forum, Caplan said he heard that Matthysse would use his purse money to purchase a ranch and become some type of modern-day gaucho on horseback.
Interesting premise and worth exploring.
Into the Indio gym walks Caplan, making his way to a sweat-soaked Matthysse, who gave up his Christmas and New Year's Eve with his family to train in the desert in pursuit of a belt, which he failed to capture in a 2013 unanimous-decision loss to Danny Garcia and then again in a 2015 loss to Viktor Postol by 10th-round knockout at StubHub Center.
Caplan tells Matthysse what he's heard and how the reporter is intrigued. Matthysse then breaks into a hearty laugh, one interpreted to mean, "You drove all the way out here for that?"
This fight isn't about buying a ranch. It's about keeping his career from buying the farm.
Thanks to other purses, Matthysse (38-4, 35 KOs) already purchased a ranch in Argentina.
"I have the ranch … it's big, right next to a river," Matthysse said through an interpreter. "I just need the horses now. I don't know if I'd ride them, though, and they cost a lot. I could never be a gaucho. I just ride quads around."
Ranch life provided Matthysse a needed break after the 2015 loss to Postol for the World Boxing Council junior-welterweight belt. After taking an early lead on scorecards, Matthysse found himself increasingly struck by Postol, who landed a power punch to Matthysse's left eye that caused temporary blindness that lasted nearly 20 seconds, he said, making it unwise to rise from the canvas. His vision returned in time to see the belt fitted around Postol.
"The hurt was bad, and I didn't like it … after, I just wanted to rest," Matthysse said.
He said he weighed 170 pounds at his peak before aligning with trainer Joel Diaz in Indio and returning to the ring in May to score a fifth-round technical knockout of veteran Emmanuel Taylor on the undercard of Canelo Alvarez's one-sided victory over Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in Las Vegas.
"I got the rest and now I'm ready," Matthysse said.
He'll face a 25-year-old, No. 2-ranked WBA contender in Kiram. Since many of Kiram's past fights were in Bangkok and not televised, scouting him is an inexact but important undertaking in light of what Thailand's Srisaket Sor Rungvisai did in coming to the U.S. last year to twice defeat former No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter Roman "Chocolatito" Gonzalez.
Matthysse vows he's ready to make his third world title bid the winner, expressing interest in both a Garcia rematch and a shot at the winner of April's Terence Crawford-Jeff Horn World Boxing Organization welterweight title fight.
'"We've got some tape. We know [Kiram's] big and he knows how to work the distance, but we've done a great camp here," Matthysse said. "I've done all these sacrifices for my family, all the people who mean so much to me, and that's why I'm going to get the title.
"You learn from your mistakes. I learned I might've trained too hard for the Postol fight. I was a little too tired. You learn every time you fail. Now, I feel the best moment of my career has not arrived yet. On [Saturday], it will arrive."
Main event: Lucas Matthysse (38-4, 35 KOs) vs. Tewa Kiram (38-0, 28 KOs), for vacant WBA welterweight title
When: Saturday, card begins at 3 p.m.
Television: HBO, 7:30
Tickets: $10, $25, $50, $100
Co-main event: Jorge Linares (43-3, 27 KOs) vs. Mercito Gesta (31-1-2, 17 KOs) for Linares' WBA lightweight belt