Subriel Matias says that Artur Beterbiev is the active fighter he most admires.
No questions asked. Beterbiev, the light heavyweight champion, knocked out in all 19 of his fights. Matias is 18-1, with 18 kills. And he avenged his only loss, a decision against Petro Ananyan, by stopping the match.
In other words, Matias brought prodigious strength into the most important fight of his career Saturday at The Armory in Minneapolis, where he faced Jeremias Ponce for the vacant junior IBF title ( Showtime).
He told me and co-host Kenneth Bouhairie on The PBC Podcast through a translator: “I am proud that I don’t let the three judges sitting next to me decide my fate or the outcome of my work. “I had to go through that once, and I didn’t like it.
“I will do everything in my power to settle the fight with my fists rather than the cards.”
Matias was victorious again after a tragic meeting with Maxim Dadashev, who died of a traumatic brain injury a few days later, when he first clashed with Ananyan on Tyson Fury-Deontay Wilder II in February 2020.
The Puerto Rican performed well early in the match but fell short in the seventh round and performed poorly for long periods of time, which seemed to indicate his fitness was lacking. Ananyan ended with a tight, but unanimous decision.
However, Matias has clearly learned his lesson. He knocked out the undefeated fighters – Malik Hawkins and Batyrzhan Jukembayev – in the next two fights to set up a rematch with Ananyan in his last fight, last January.
This time, he excelled, trained better and ended up stopping his opponent for nine innings for the title.
“I learned the value of discipline,” Matias said of his loss. “It made me mature. I have to realize that you can’t go into a fight presumptuously, thinking you’re better than someone with the discipline to support it. …
“I’ve learned not to underestimate anyone no matter how good they are, no matter how accomplished they are.”
Matias doesn’t underestimate Ponce (30-0, 20 KOs), a tall, lanky but powerful competitor from Argentina who is making his US debut.
The Buenos Aires native doesn’t have a Matias knockout record but his long, whip-lashing punches have produced stops in his last three games and four of his last five. He was a real threat to anyone in the division, including Matias.
“Ponce is tough and he has a unique style,” says Matas. “I would compare him to Marcos Maidana, who has shocked the boxing world many times. I don’t see many people like him in boxing these days.
“Ponce is a great fighter, and I respect both him and the Argentina team. But my goal is not to let this fight go too far.”