After Golovkin at the Garden last weekend Las Vegas looks to continue where New York left off, as another devastating puncher is in action this Saturday, this time in Sin City.
Hard-hitting Argentine Lucas Matthysse comes to town to defend his WBC interim light welterweight strap against Mike Dallas Jr, in what could prove to be an interesting match-up of styles pitting the exciting pressure fighter against a slick boxer.
In the eyes of many observers, the 30-year-old Matthysse (32-2, 30KOs) should still be undefeated. Both losses on his record were highly contentious, each a split-decision verdict in his opponents backyard against Zab Judah and Devon Alexander. His impressive performances in those encounters raised his profile however, and he's now on a run of four consecutive stoppage victories. Matthysse's last outing was a tenth round knockout of the formerly undefeated brawler Ajose Olusegun, to win his interim title at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in September of last year.
He steps into that same arena on Saturday night knowing that a successful defence could not only land him a shot at the full title, but potentially give him a chance to avenge one of his 'defeats'. Judah challenges Danny Garcia for his unified 140lb titles in February, though fans will be hoping Garcia can emerge victorious from that one with a battle between Matthysse and the Philadelphia native currently one of the most sought-after fights in boxing.
Dallas Jr (19-2-1, 8 KOs) comes into the bout as a replacement for Matthysse's original opponent Hank Lundy, who was pulled out of the fight by his manager Ivan Cohen on the basis that Cohen was "never informed of or had seen a contract for this fight" and it being "a horrible fight for Lundy, one that he will lose for sure." There's no doubt that facing Matthysse must be an imperious task, but lets hope Dallas's team have a little more confidence in their man than Lundy's handlers did.
In Dallas's corner on the night will be 2011 trainer of the year Virgil Hunter and the pair have been working on a gameplan that they believe can exploit the flaws in the Argentine puncher's style. The 26-year-old 'Silent Assassin' from Bakersfield in California is coming off a sixth-round stoppage of Javier Castro last June, but this is by far his toughest assignment to date and a big step up in class.
Dallas has been stopped before, in the seventh round of his bout with Josesito Lopez two years ago and has not been in with anyone at that level since. He was however unlucky to lose a majority decision to Mauricio Herrera, in his comeback fight from the Lopez defeat.
Aside from it being his biggest test, it's also going to be an emotional night for Dallas. He's dedicating the bout to his late father, who lost his battle with leukaemia last November.
Dallas is a skilful boxer and a good mover. The gameplan that he and Hunter have been working on will likely involve utilising his movement to keep the fight at distance, using the jab to set up angles and land combinations before getting back out of range. An accurate puncher possessing faster hands than Matthysse, he can look to score first and try to box his way to a decision on the outside. If he does get trapped on the inside, Dallas will need to tie up quickly.
Pressuring opponents into fighting at close range is one of the things Matthysse does best though and he's relentless, very active and usually lands with a high success rate. How long will it be before Dallas is forced to trade? Likely when and not if he does, there's only going to be one winner.