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Top 3 opponents for Lucas Matthysse

Credit: Tom Casino / Showtime

One of the Sweet Science’s sweetest hitters, Lucas Matthysse, will be touching gloves with Mike Dallas Jr. at the Hard Rock Cafe in Las Vegas on January 26.

Third-ranked Matthysse, 30 (32-2-0, 30 KOs), fought three times in 2012, retiring Angel Martinez in the sixth, Humberto Soto in the fifth, and winning the interim WBC junior welterweight title from Ajose Olusegun via 10th-round TKO.

Dallas (19-2-1, 8 KOs), a last-minute replacement for Henry Lundy, fought twice last year, beating Miguel Gonzalez by unanimous decision and Javier Castro by sixth-round KO.  Both of his losses came in 2011, at the hands of Josesito Lopez and Mauricio Herrera.

Credit: Tom Casino / Showtime

His third defeat will come on January 26, when the Argentine will see to it that “The Silent Assassin” is a lot more silent than homicidal — I expect an early, and definitive, stoppage.

Considering that this is nothing more than a glorified sparring session – who should be next? Here are my top 3 candidates:

Danny Garcia

A pro since 2007, second-ranked and WBA and WBC junior welterweight titlist Danny Garcia fought three times last year, beating Erik Morales twice and stopping Amir Khan by fourth-round TKO.  “Swift”, 24 (25-0-0, 16 KOs), is scheduled to face a faded Zab Judah in February.

Matthysse and Garcia’s upcoming matches won’t accomplish or prove anything, and will only garner fan derision.  Dallas is a mediocrity and Judah’s best days are in the rearview mirror.  Given that Matthysse and Garcia are promoted by Golden Boy, there’s no obstacle to their facing each other as early as, say, late spring or early summer.

No sign, as of yet, that such a match is in the offing.  But if it does take place, it would be an intimidating contender for Fight of the Year.

Amir Khan

Sixth-ranked “King Khan”, 26 (27-3-0, 19 KOs), has redeemed himself (so he claims) by retiring Carlos Molina in the 10th round of their December match following his knockout loss at the hands of Garcia earlier in the year.

Khan contends that he’s a new and improved fighter since replacing trainer Freddie Roach with Virgil Hunter.  But it’s not time that will tell, but a match with Matthysse. As with Garcia, however, there’s no sign of it taking place. With Khan’s highly-discussed chin issues, and Matthysse’s concussive power, it’s likely that King Khan’s team will steer well clear of such a match anytime in the near future.

Marcos Maidana

“El Chino”, 29 (33-3-0, 30 KOs), entered the ring the same year as fellow Argentine Matthysse.  And their stats are almost identical — Maidana has a KO record of 83%, while Matthysse’s stands at 85%.

Maidana fought three times last year, losing to Devon Alexander by unanimous decision, but beating Jesus Soto Karass by eighth-round TKO and Angel Martinez by third-round KO.

Matthysse vs. Maidana — what a slugfest!  In fact, I can’t think of a more exciting match-up, and one that could and should happen…but that doesn’t mean it will. [Editor’s note: Besides 4 amateur fights against each other, there’s a legendary/infamous story of a behind-closed-doors match between Matthysse and Maidana when both were top Argentine amateurs].

There are other possibilities, but all are problematic.  Welter Robert Guerrero, for instance, is focused on his likely match, in May, with Floyd Mayweather Jr.  Brandon Rios is with Top Rank, which gets along with Golden Boy about as well as do North and South Korea.  And Adrien Broner doesn’t appear to be in any hurry to move up from lightweight.

A word on what would truly be a gift from the gods of boxing:  Juan Manuel Marquez vs. Lucas Matthysse.  I don’t say that Marquez would emerge victorious, but he’s likelier to than Maidana, Khan, or even Garcia.  It won’t happen though — Marquez is with Top Rank.  Besides, a fifth go-round with Manny Pacquiao is where the Mexican’s heart is.  Fine…but I’d much rather he fight Matthysse.