HBO Boxing began its 2018 schedule with a welterweight main event between the heavy-handed Lucas Matthysse (39-4-1 NC, 36 KOs) and relative unknown Tewa Kiram (38-1, 28 KOs), a Thai fighter who’d never competed in the United States before. The fight itself… was bad. It wasn’t a blowout, but it was utterly dreadful and the crowd let them both know how awful it was.
Then things got weird.
Kiram’s corner was in possession of a small substance, and before round 6, Kiram was caught sniffing the small jar, and the California State Athletic Commission confiscated it. The commission later confirmed that Kiram was sniffing Tiger Balm.
In round 8, with the Argentinian up on two of the three scorecards, Matthysse used a 1-2 to put Kiram down, and the jab did most of the damage. It looked for all the world that Kiram wasn’t going to get up based on his fall, but he beat the count. Less than a minute later, Matthysse floored Kiram with a jab, and this time the referee stopped the fight. Kiram tumbled to the canvas and was sprawled on his back, which you don’t normally see on jabs, let alone on such a delayed reaction.
“Sometimes there’s a delayed reaction knockdown. That is the biggest delay I’ve ever seen,” HBO analyst Kellerman said in the post-fight replays. “I’ve never seen a delay that long. It was so delayed that it’s reasonable to question whether Kiram was looking for a place to fall down, at that point.”
In fairness, Matthysse has scored knockouts in 36 of his 39 wins, so maybe his power combined with Kiram’s ability to take a punch produced this ending. Alternatively, Kiram was steadily running out of ideas and essentially quit. Then there are the “dive” calls, which can easily be interpreted as suggesting that this outcome was… suspicious.
Whatever the case, I think everyone who watched the fight can agree that it was a relief to see this one not go the full 12 rounds.