- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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Just on their own, the fights between Danny Garcia and Zab Judah, who met April 27, and Lamont Peterson and Lucas Matthysse, who meet Saturday night (Showtime, 9 ET/PT) at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J., are attractive matchups.
Garcia is a unified junior welterweight titleholder and the No. 1 fighter at 140 pounds. Judah is a former three-time titleholder with one of the biggest names in the sport. As it turned out, they waged an excellent fight with plenty of drama, and Garcia survived to win a unanimous decision.
Peterson, who also has one of the world titles, and Matthysse, an interim titleholder, are the Nos. 2 and 3 fighters in the division, and they have styles that should mesh beautifully and make for a terrific fight.
But when Golden Boy Promotions chief executive Richard Schaefer and Showtime Sports boss Stephen Espinoza put together the fights, they had a grander idea than simply having the individual bouts separated by three weeks.
The plan was for the Garcia-Judah winner to face the Peterson-Matthysse winner to crown a 140-pound king in an unofficial tournament because the four fighters have not signed contracts calling for the final.
But that remains the plan, and everyone involved appears to be on board. The target date for Garcia to meet Saturday night’s winner is Sept. 7.
After Garcia defeated Judah, he came to the post-fight news conference and said to count him in.
“You know me, I'll fight anybody,” Garcia said. “If that's what [manager] Al Haymon [who recently signed Matthysse] wants, then that's what I'll do. I think Peterson will win [against Matthysse].”
Garcia plans to be ringside on Saturday night,too.
“Garcia is committed to it and the other two want to do it as well,” Schaefer said. “All the fighters are on board and so are the managers. I have to still discuss the money but [after Saturday] we’ll sit down with Showtime and work out a license fee.”
Although Peterson and Matthysse face a difficult assignment against each other, both also want Garcia next.
Peterson has wanted nothing more than to face elite opponents. He has faced Victor Ortiz and Timothy Bradley Jr. (both of whom are now welterweights). Peterson said he is all about proving he is No. 1 at 140 pounds.
“At the end of the day, those are some of the top guys in the division and to me that’s what boxing’s all about,” Peterson said. “Once you get to this level it shouldn’t be no more 'C class' fighters. There should be top-level guys, top five. I don’t even want to say top 10. It should be the top five guys. And those are some of the names that are in the top five, in my book, so I have no problem with that lineup. [So as for fighting Garcia], yeah, yeah, I’m definitely OK with it.”
As interim titlist, Matthysse is Garcia’s mandatory challenger, and that is the fight he has wanted even more than the one with Peterson.
“Yes, definitely, definitely, that’s what I want,” Matthysse said of facing Garcia. “I want that, if that’s the reason for this fight [with Peterson]. I hope that everything comes out OK because, yes, I would love to fight Danny Garcia.”