Subriel Matias Overcomes Tough Start For World Title TKO
Saturday night’s win in Minnesota by Subriel Matias for the vacant IBF junior welterweight title was not without early drama against unbeaten fellow contender Jeremias Ponce.
And, here’s more from our insider Dan Rafael on how the Puerto Rican Matias won the Showtime/PBC main event by eventually overcame Ponce for the TKO, his 19th in 19 pro victories and his biggest career moment to date.
— SHOWTIME Boxing (@ShowtimeBoxing) February 26, 2023
Dan Rafael’s Recap
“Matias looked shell-shocked after the first round during which Jeremias Ponce took immediate control and overwhelmed him with punches in their vacant IBF junior welterweight title fight on Saturday night.
Ponce set a torrid pace but he could not sustain the massive punch output, nor could he stand up to the considerable thunder in Matias’ fists.
Matias got himself together in the second round, began to land with regularity and, after dropping Ponce in the final seconds of the fifth round, Ponce trainer Alberto Zacarias stopped the fight in the corner.
The surprising call brought an end to what had been a firefight in the main event of a Premier Boxing Champions tripleheader on Showtime before a sold-out crowd of about 4,700 at The Armory in Minneapolis.
“I’m on cloud nine right now,” Matias said through an interpreter. “I don’t think I’ve woken up from this dream. Maybe I can tell you how it feels tomorrow, but right now, it’s a dream come true.”
During the pre-fight buildup, both fighters said they would go for a knockout and they did just that in an effort to win one of the three 140-pound belts that undisputed champion Josh Taylor vacated or was stripped of last year in order to pursue a different fight rather than face Ponce, his IBF mandatory challenger.
It did not look good for Matias early one as Ponce wasted no time going right at him at the opening bell. He took it Matias for the entire first round with an avalanche of punches and then decided to stand in his corner between rounds rather than rest on a stool.
“I’m calm because I worked really for 10 months in gym. I came here to win. There was nothing to worry about,” Matias said about his rough start. “I’m a guy that for the first four rounds, I’m very tentative.”
Ponce (30-1, 20 KOs), 26, of Argentina, landed 28 of 96 punches in the opening round, according to CompuBox statistics, and had made the decision to fight Matias on the inside and go punch-for-punch with the bigger hitter. It proved to be a major mistake.
“In the first round I came out to try to get him but he’s a tough fighter and I knew this fight was going to be a very tough fight,” Ponce said through an interpreter.
Matias (19-1, 19 KOs), 30, of Puerto Rico, regrouped and picked things up dramatically in the second round as they stood toe to toe in the middle of the ring and banged it out with Matias hurting Ponce with a left hook at one point.
The non-stop action continued but Matias slowly but surely gained control. He rocked Matias with a powerful left hook in the final seconds of the fourth round.
As the fifth round wound down, Matias put together a six-punch flurry that included a solid right to the chin and a short left to the body that sent Ponce sprawling to he mat. He came to rest against the bottom ring rope, but got to his rear end and then to his feet by the count of eight from referee Mark Nelson.
“He’s a strong fighter and he did hit me with that shot and I went down,” Ponce said. “I lost my stability a little bit. I did recoup but it was just too late.”
When the fight resumed only five seconds remained in the round and Matias landed a few more punches, but Ponce, who was fighting in the United States for the first time, made it to the bell. However, after a few seconds on his stool, Zararias decided to stop the fight.
“I’m fine. The first thing is I am in great health,” Ponce said. “My corner knows me better than me and it’s better to take the precaution a minute earlier than a minute late, but I wanted to continue. I thought it was definitely even but in this kind of fight one punch ends it and that’s what happened.”
Matias led 48-46 on all three scorecards at the time of the stoppage.
“What I wanted to do was knock him out,” Matias said. “I wanted to knock him out in the sixth round, so it was a surprise they stopped the fight. In the fifth round, I knew he was hurt. He was going backwards so I’m like a lion looking for the feast — and I found it.”
According to CompuBox, Matias landed 137 of 398 punches (34 percent) and Ponce landed 111 of 405 (27 percent).
While Ponce said he would like a rematch that is highly unlikely. Matias would like to unify titles and said his first choice would be square off with WBC titlist Regis Prograis.
“Regis Prograis, I’m coming for you,” Matias said. “I’m the world champion now. I promise that I’m coming to hurt you. Prograis likes to talk the talk, but I have that same mentality. Let’s see who prevails. I want him to see that there are people crazier than him in this sport.”