Boxing's big night was exactly two weeks away, on May 2, when Floyd Mayweather Jr. faces Manny Pacquiao in Las Vegas in a welterweight title fight fans have been desperate to see for more than five years.
But in a small casino in upstate New York on Saturday, two gritty, rough and unstoppable super lightweights reminded us just why we love boxing so much.
Lucas Matthysse edged Ruslan Provodnikov in a fight that very much lived up to the pre-fight hype that had it as potentially the best fight this year.
The men were never more than two steps away from each other and spent most of the night winging bombs at each other. Amazingly, there were no knockdowns as Matthysse pulled out a well deserved majority decision victory. Judge Don Ackerman scored it 114-114, the same as Yahoo Sports, but he was overruled by judges Glenn Feldman and John McKaie, who each had it 115-113 for Matthysse.
Provodnikov was cut early by an inadvertent head butt and fought most of the fight with blood steaming down his face. Matthysse peppered him with powerful shots but amazingly, Provodnikov not only didn't go down, he rarely took a backward step.
"I saw the cut and I was hitting him and hitting him hard," Matthysse said during his post-fight interview on HBO. "But he's a rock. He was undeterred. He took a lot of hard punches. He even hurt my hand. He's a great champion."
There was no title at stake in the Matthysse-Provodnikov bout, which was held at the Turning Stone Casino in Verona, N.Y.
One belt was on the line on Saturday and it was claimed by a man who just may be the world's best super lightweight. Terence "Bud" Crawford was extremely impressive in stopping Thomas Dulorme in the sixth round of their bout for the WBO title in Arlington, Texas, which was the opener of HBO's split site card.
Crawford, the 2014 Fighter of the Year who was moving up from lightweight, looked every bit the part as he boxed expertly and showed a suddenly emerging power.
While Matthysse and Provodnikov have the come-forward, fan-friendly style, both eat far too many punches to make either of them a serious threat against Crawford. Crawford is the consummate professional who can box and punch and seems to be one of the best all-around fighters in the sport.
It was a wild overall night for boxing. In Carson, Calif., in a bout televised on Showtime, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. quit on his stool after the ninth round of his bout with Andrzej Fonfara. Showtime's microphones picking up Chavez asking trainer Joe Goossen to stop the fight between the ninth and 10th rounds.
Chavez increduously told Showtime's Jim Gray he thought he was ahead at the time of the stoppage. One judge gave Chavez just one round, while the other two gave him two apiece.
He went down for the first time in his career in the ninth from a Fonfara left and looked very much like a pampered rich kid who didn't train much.
Or, to be more precise, exactly the opposite of Matthysse, Provodnikov and especially Crawford.