Danny Garcia gets to keep his world titles, and his father, Angel Garcia, gets to keep his hair.
Garcia, the WBC and WBA junior welterweight champion, showed his toughness, standing toe to toe with Lucas Matthysse and winning a 12-round unanimous decision Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden to remain undefeated. The title fight was part of the undercard to the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Saul “Canelo” Alvarez main event.
Judge Glenn Trowbridge scored the fight 115-111, and Robert Hoyle and Juergen Langos had it 114-112.
Angel Garcia, who trains his son, said he would shave his head if Matthysse won. But after a fast start, the challenger couldn’t stay with the champ.
“He’s a great warrior, and I’m a great warrior,” said Garcia (27-0). “I’m from Philadelphia, and you don’t get out of Philadelphia without being tough.”
Garcia, making his fifth title defense, didn’t back down against Matthysse, a minus-250 betting favorite at the MGM Resorts sports books when the fight started.
“I’m the champion of the world, and the champion isn’t afraid of anybody,” Garcia said. “I knew he was a sharp fighter, but the only way to slow him down was to go to the body.”
Garcia looked to outbox the challenger from Argentina, using an effective jab. But he also landed several low blows, and referee Tony Weeks warned Garcia several times. Finally, in the 12th round, Weeks deducted a point after yet another low blow left Matthysse wincing in pain.
Matthysse (34-3) didn’t let the tactics throw him. His plan to work the body and then go to the head were effective, and he used his immense power wisely without being careless.
As the fight progressed, Matthysse looked to attack the head more in the hopes of taking out Garcia. But in the seventh round, Matthysse’s right eye was swelling shut from an accidental head butt, and Garcia rocked him with a solid right-left combination to the head.
It might have been the spark Garcia needed. He had managed to overcome a slow start in the first two rounds and continued to go after Matthysse. He tagged him with a left to the swollen right eye a minute into the eighth round, and Matthysse was clearly bothered by the big shot.
He continued but was at a disadvantage. Garcia had adjusted smartly and was throwing the hook behind the jab and landing decisively.
But Matthysse rallied in the 11th round, landing a big shot early — a left to the face — and following up with another left that rocked Garcia. But Garcia responded and dropped Matthysse with a three-punch combination with about a minute left in the round. Matthysse appeared to be on his way to winning the round before Garcia’s late flurry.
The final 15 seconds of the fight were furious as both fighters went for the knockout. But in the end, Garcia survived the desperate onslaught from Matthysse and retained his titles.
“I could still see, even though my eye was swollen,” Matthysse said. “I kept fighting, and I fought well. I’m a warrior. I was looking for a knockout the entire time, but he was tough.”
Contact reporter Steve Carp at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter @stevecarprj.