Lucas Matthysse knocks out Tewa Kiram to earn first title

Tewa Kiram of Thailand is knocked out by Lucas Matthysse of Argentina during their bout at The Forum.
(Jeff Gross / Getty Images)

In bits of each of their fights, Jorge Linares and Lucas Matthysse had glimpses of their fevered pursuits going sideways.

Instead, Linares reverted to the skill that has made him a repeat champion and Matthysse unloaded his patented power to win his first world title belt Saturday night at the Forum.

After confronting a more impassioned challenge than expected from Mercito Gesta, Linares (44-3) won a unanimous decision by scores of 118-110, 118-110, 117-111 to retain his World Boxing Assn. lightweight belt.


In his main-event bid for the WBA’s secondary welterweight belt, Matthysse was so lethargic for so long against Thailand’s Tewa Kiram that the thuds of his rare punches were shouted down by the fans’ jeers.

Then, suddenly in the eighth round, Matthysse dropped Kiram twice with left hands. Kiram (37-1) was down for good after the second blow, the end coming 1:21 into the round.

After previously losing world title shots to junior-welterweights Danny Garcia and Viktor Postol, Matthysse (39-4) had his belt, and he sat atop a neutral ring corner with a beaming expression of satisfaction.

“He moved really well and he was really big. That’s why it was hard to cut the distance,” Matthysse said of Kiram.

That’s why the fans, knowing Matthysse had knocked out 35 of his last 42 opponents, were so vocal in their unhappiness — until Matthysse delivered what they wanted.

“I didn’t feel his power when he hit me and that’s why I was able to find him later and stop him,” Matthysse said. “He felt my power.”


Linares too was dealing with the eagerness of looming rewards.

Fellow lightweight champion Mikey Garcia of Riverside and super-featherweight champion Vasyl Lomachenko have expressed interest in becoming Linares’ next opponent.

Each bout promises a record purse beyond the $300,000 Linares earned Saturday.

“You know what’s nice? That people mention my name,” Linares said afterward. “That’s fine that they mention my name, but let’s get them in the ring with me.”

First, the champion had to deal with a healthy sense of disrespect for his punching power by Gesta (31-2-2), who dictated the pace and was more busy in the early rounds, provoking Linares to take on a more patient approach.

That allowed the champion from Venezuela to find Gesta with hard punches to the head in the fourth round. A similar punch in the fifth prompted Gesta to retaliate with a furious attack.

“I didn’t really feel his power, though I hurt my hand in the fourth or fifth,” Linares said. “I threw my right hand without really putting too much power into it.

“There wasn’t a knockout because he was well prepared.”

Gesta’s competitiveness forced Linares, 32, to draw upon the talent that has won him seven consecutive lightweight title fights.


Effective combinations, more precise power shots and the ability to land the defining punches of the later rounds moved Linares to the victory. He out-landed Gesta 171-120 in overall punches and 149-100 in power blows.

When a Gesta flurry missed, Linares urged the challenger in his second title shot to bring more. Linares’ accuracy and more rapid movement shined into the 11th, and he scored two more late power punches in the 12th to seal victory.

“I fought against a world champion and that was a great privilege,” Gesta said. “He adjusted well to my style. [We] came in with the best game plan. We just fell a little short.”

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