By Andreas Hale
Photos: Mary Ann Owen
Mike Dallas Jr. has a lofty task in front of him when he steps in the ring against hard-hitting Lucas Matthysse on January 26. Well aware that the Argentinean is one of the most feared power punchers in all of boxing, the 26-year-old appears unfazed by the pressure of stepping into the ring with the interim WBC light welterweight champion.
“They say he’s the most avoided 140 pounder but I’m not scared of him,” Dallas Jr. (19-2-1, 8 KOs) said during a media workout in Las Vegas on Wednesday. Dallas Jr. may be stepping into the ring Saturday with a healthy amount of confidence, but don’t think for one second that he’s a fool. He’s paid very close attention to Matthysse and figures that he’s found the formula to upend the fighter that many believe should still be undefeated despite highly controversial losses to Devon Alexander and Zab Judah. Despite those losses, Matthysse has ran roughshod over his opponents and hasn’t won a fight by decision since 2008. But with Virgil Hunter in his corner, Dallas Jr. believes he has the formula to upset Matthysse on Saturday.
“Every fight you have to train hard but for this fight I’ve been working on my boxing skills and being smart in the ring. That’s the key to beating any fighter,” Dallas Jr. says. Clearly, the key is neutralizing his power and “The Silent Assassin” is confident he can avoid being Matthysse’s 31st knockout victim. “We have eight ounce gloves and everybody hits hard with those gloves so you have to take it away from him and use his aggressiveness against him.”
Looking back on Matthysse’s previous fights, Dallas sees that all of his opponents make the same mistake.”They were doing good until they started trading and most of them got tired,” he says to FightNews. Dallas is no stranger to making mistakes and paying for them. A 2011 knockout loss to Josesito Lopez taught him a lot that he figures he can use against the interim champ.
“I was young in the sport against Lopez and they through a lot of tough fighters at me,” he says. ” I let him rough me up and I wasn’t physical. Now I’m more of a physical fighter.”
That can likely be attributed to his work with Hunter, who he says has slowed him down and forced him to pick his spots rather than try to go full speed ahead and run through opponents.
“We’ve been working on placing my punches and taking my time,” he says of his work with the 2011 trainer of the year. “We have to be fast when we need to be fast.”
“Controlled aggression” might be the best way to put it. And with someone like Matthysse plowing toward him with only one thing on his mind, Dallas is going to need to control the bull with his boxing and move like a skilled matador in order to stay upright. With this being the biggest fight in his young career, the mistakes have to be kept at a minimum in order to pull off the major upset. A win against Matthysse will catapult Dallas Jr. into the spotlight. But he’s not really thinking about the future. Right now, it’s all about Matthysse.
“I know a win would be huge for me so after that, bring on the best,” he says while dismissing any conversation about where the win would take him. “I’m just going to leave it all in the ring and see what happens.”