ShoBox: The New Generation veteran Thomas Mattice upset previously undefeated lightweight prospect Michael Dutchover.
An eighth-round cut caused by a Mattice punch ended the fight in his favor by technical knockdown in front of an enthusiastic crowd at La Hacienda Events Center in Dutchover’s hometown of Midland, Texas, on SHOWTIME.
Referee Robert Velez ruled Dutchover’s cut was caused by a Mattice clean right hand stopping the action at 1:33 of the eighth round. At the time of the stoppage, the three judges had the fight 67-66 Mattice, and 68-65 and 69-64 for Dutchover after seven rounds of action (Video of the decision HERE).
“I wanted a stoppage but not that kind of stoppage,” said Mattice (11-1-1, 11 KOs), who was appearing on ShoBox for a fifth time. “Round by round it was a tough fight.”
ShoBox expert analyst Steve Farhood said, “The doctor acted decisively,” later adding on the telecast: “In a very close fight, the deciding factor was the referee ruling that the cut was the result of legal punch instead of a head butt.”
Added fellow International Boxing Hall of Famer and blow-by-blow commentator Barry Tompkins: “It’s boxing, and you have to expect the unexpected.”
The 21-year-old Dutchover (13-1, 10 KOs) was making his second appearance on ShoBox, and fighting in his hometown for the first time as a professional. The last time he fought in his home state was an amateur in 2016 when he won the Texas Golden Gloves.
“I got cut with a big punch and it opened up and the ref said I couldn’t continue,” a disappointed Dutchover said. “I wanted to continue but they didn’t let me. “It was a great fight for the fans. The fight unfortunately got cut in the eighth round. I was up in the scorecards and I was going to finish the fight but it was out of my control, the referee stopped it and there’s nothing that I could do about it and that’s that.”
Dutchover entered the ring wearing the high school football jersey of Midland legend and former NFL star Cedric Benson, who was tragically killed in a motorcycle accident on August 17 in Austin (Video of Dutchover’s ring walk HERE).
Mattice held a five-and-a-half inch reach distance against Dutchover. “I kind of think that when I pushed him back he got in trouble, because he can’t really fight going backwards,” Mattice said. “Honestly, he couldn’t box with me, so I got my mind stuck on knocking him out to make it more competitive.
“My corner told me, ‘It’s the eighth round and we probably need a knockout.’ And that’s when I pressed him.”
In the co-feature, undefeated and highly regarded featherweight prospect Ruben Villa (17-0, 5 KOs) of Salinas, Calif., dominated Garcia Promotions’ prospect Enrique Vivas (17-1, 9 KOs) of Mexico City recording a 10-round unanimous decision shutout. The scores were 100-89 on all three judges’ scorecards (Video of Villa’s KO HERE).
A clean left hand in the second round set up by a Villa right jab sent Vivas to the canvas for the first time as a pro. Not known for his knockout power, Villa stepped into the punch for the clean knockdown.
“The knockdown definitely set the pace for the fight,” said Villa, who went the distance for the sixth consecutive fight and second straight at 10 rounds. “I just didn’t want to get too excited and knew I had to keep to my game plan.”
The loss by Vivas was the 190th time in ShoBox’s 19-year history that an undefeated boxer had lost his perfect record.
“I’m not happy with the decision,” Vivas said. “I feel I performed better than what the judges saw. I’m also not happy with my performance. I know I can do so much better than what I showed tonight.
Villa, who was fighting for the third time on ShoBox, displayed excellent defense and accuracy, landing 44 percent of his punches, including 59 percent of his power shots.
Four-division world champion Mikey Garcia said his fighter faced distractions during the fight and fight week. “He was never able to get in the groove of things, and Villa’s southpaw stand was tough,” Garcia said. “He also had a lot distractions trying to secure his visa during training camp. So all of these distractions might have played a role in his performance tonight. I’ll keep working with him, we’ll get him a few more fights and back at this level.”
Villa said he knew what to expect from Vivas. “We knew he was dirty,” he said. “We addressed it but we kind of fell into his game plan for about two rounds but we were able to get back on track.”
Both fighters stayed warm as a rope malfunction caused a delay for the sixth round.
Ranked No. 8 by the WBO, Villa said he wants to fight for a world title within the next 12 months. “Whatever comes next, I’m up for it,” Villa said. “I’m going to take a few weeks off, then it’s right back to the gym.”
In the telecast opener, welterweight prospect Brandun Lee (17-0, 15 KOs), of La Quinta, Calif., survived the toughest test of his young career with an impressive second-round knockout against Milton Arauz (10-2-1, 5 KOs) of Nicaragua (Video of Lee knockout punch HERE).
The 20-year-old Lee landed a straight right hand set up by a clean jab that blinded Arauz, who hit the canvas in the final seconds of the round as referee Daniel Sandoval called off the fight before the 10-count. It was an emphatic win for Lee in his national television debut, which Tompkins called “a thing of beauty.”
Lee was surprised that Arauz didn’t go down in the first round. “I’m not used to that so that was a huge wake-up call,” Lee said. “It’s more than just hitting hard; you have to also set up your punches. I kept throwing my jab, throwing my jab, then a hook, another hook and then I surprised him with a quick right. I learned that it’s more than just hitting hard. You can hit them hard but you are not going to knock them out all the time.
Fighting for the fifth time in 2019, the full-time college student Lee wasted no time getting started attacking Arauz in the first round with several blows that sent Arauz staggering against the ropes. Lee, who is trained by his father Bobby Lee, threw 109 punches in the first round.
Farhood said Lee’s knockout was a “pretty impressive national TV debut” and the second-round KO ended a streak of six consecutive first-round knockouts by Lee.
“I think I’m back in November,” Lee said. “I’m not sure when or where but I want to fight again this year.”