NEW YORK– Subriel Matias joined an elite group of boxing champions from Puerto Rico with a power punching display as he stopped the previously unbeaten Argentinian Jeremias Ponce after five rounds to win the vacant IBF 140-pound World Championship Saturday night live on SHOWTIME from The Armory in Minneapolis headlining a Premier Boxing Champions event.
Matias (19-1, 19 KOs) Fajardo, Puerto Rico captured the title in an electric fight that saw the two top-ranked 140-pounders throw over 800 combined punches in five rounds according to CompuBox. For Matias, the victory culminated a long journey that had him away from his family for nearly a year as he trained in Mexico for his first title opportunity.
“I’m on cloud nine right now,” said Matias. “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. I wanted to work him from the first round on, because I knew he wouldn’t have the same power as me as the fight went on.”
Ponce (30-1, 20 KOs) came out extremely aggressive and looked to swarm Matias early as he threw 96 punches in round one, out landing Matias 28 to 11. Matias adjusted in round two, closing the distance and powering Ponce to limit some of his attack while also finding spots for his own short power punches.
“I thought it was an even fight, but one punch can change everything and that’s what happened,” said Ponce. “Subriel is a tough, strong fighter and I knew what he was capable of.”
After landing a powerful left hand that hurt Ponce late in round four, Matias returned determined and sharp in round five, landing 47% of his power punches over the three minutes. In the waning moments of the round, Matias landed those decisive blows with a series of head and body shots that hurt Matias and put him on the mat.
Ponce was able to make it to his stool, but his corner had seen enough and suggested that the fight be stopped, with the official result coming as a TKO at the end of round five.
“I’m fine now,” said Ponce. “My team knows me, and they made the decision that they had to make. It hurts, but the most important thing is that I’m healthy.”
“I wasn’t really surprised,” said Matias. “Once I saw how his corner reacted. I saw that [Ponce] was hurt. I thought that I was patient in the first four rounds, so I came out with a different approach and mindset in the fifth.”
After the fight, with his IBF belt in tow, Matias set his sights on a unification showdown against WBC 140-pound World Champion Regis Prograis.
“Regis Prograis, I’m coming for you,” said Matias. “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.”
In the co-main event, Minneapolis-native and welterweight contender Jamael “Shango” James(28-2, 12 KOs) returned from a 16-month layoff to thrill a sold-out hometown crowd and earn a unanimous decision victory after 10-rounds against Argentine Olympian Alberto Palmetta (18-2, 13 KOs).
“I’m pretty sure everybody can see that layoff affected me,” said James. “I had a lot of rust in me. My legs weren’t sharp, my punches weren’t sharp, but I’m glad I was able to get in there. I liked that because it’s pushing me mentally and it made me step up to the occasion.”
“I thought it was an even fight,” said Palmetta. “I was the aggressor throughout against a former world champion, a taller opponent with longer reach than me.”
Photo Gallery of the Matias Victory
Rich Mancuso is co-editor and senior writer @Latinosports.com Twitter@Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso. Watch “Sports With Rich” with Rich and co-host Robert Rizzo Tuesday evening 8pmET on the SLG Network and YouTube
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