The Puerto Rican slugger hands Jeremias Ponce his first loss and captures the IBF 140-pound World Championship in a brilliant battle of power punchers Saturday night on SHOWTIME.
Subriel Matias fights with a simple mantra: “Either I’m going to knock you out, or you are going to knock me out.”
Headlining a Premier Boxing Champions event Saturday night on SHOWTIME, Matias was challenged by an opponent in Jeremias Ponce who appeared to fight by a similar code. Fighting for his first world title, Matias would not be denied. The stoic 30-year-old from Fajardo, Puerto Rico, dazzled the capacity crowd at The Armory in Minneapolis with a fifth-round TKO over Ponce to become the new IBF 140-pound World Champion.
The rousing give-and-take ended when Ponce could not answer the bell for the sixth round, awarding Matias (19-1, 19 KOs) the victory. Matias was as calm in the aftermath as he was inside the ring, where he overcame a ferocious assault from Ponce.
“We worked 10 months really hard in the gym, so I came here to win and there’s nothing to offset that,” Matias said. “I was looking to knock him out in the sixth round so I wasn’t surprised that they stopped the fight.”
All three judges had the fight even after four and a knockout from either fighter was inevitable. Ponce, 26, 30-1, (20 KOs), dominated the first, landing wide lefts to the head and body and backing Matias up with a variety of punches from different angles.
Yet Matias appeared unbothered, covering up and weathering the storm as if he was merely assessing what Ponce had to offer.
“I’m a guy that for the first four rounds, I’m very tentative,” Matias admitted. “I saw him coming out this way and I was trying also to prepare.”
Ponce stuck his forehead right on Matias’ chest in the second, crowding him against the ropes and again landing punishing shots. Midway through the frame, Matias opened up with hard punches of his own. Two short, counter left hooks from Matias momentarily stunned Ponce near the end of the round.
The phonebooth battle continued in the third, each landing their share of shots that would have fallen lesser men. With :07 left in the fourth, Matias unloaded a left hook that caught Ponce on the right side of his face. It created such an impact that you hear the leather hit Ponce’s skin. The Puerto Rican had slowly taken control of the fight and his punches carried greater impact.
Matias landed an assortment of shots to the head and body during the fateful fifth. Late in the round, he found himself backed against the ropes with Ponce again unleashing big shots. Matias coolly slipped and smothered, countering with a short left hook that caused Ponce’s knees to give.
Smelling blood, Matias pounced, catching Ponce with another hook upstairs and then one to the ribs that drove Ponce to canvas for the second knockdown of his career. Ponce rose, aware of his surroundings but clearly weakening.
“I saw that he was hurt and he was going back, and I’m like a lion looking for the feast and I found it,” Matias said.
In between rounds, Ponce’s corner submitted.
“I’m fine, I’m fine,” Ponce said. “I’m in great health and everything, and my corner knows me better than me. It’s better to take the precaution a minute earlier than a minute less, 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. It turned it around.
“In the first round, I came out to try and get him. But he was a tough fighter and I knew this fight was going to be a very tough fight. Hopefully, I definitely want the rematch.”
So might fight fans because the new champion Matias versus any top fighter in the super lightweight division makes for must-see TV.
Jamal James makes a successful return with a unanimous decision over Alberto Palmetta
Former WBA welterweight world champion Jamal “Shango” James made a triumphant return in his hometown of Minneapolis. James showed no signs of rust from a 16-month layoff, winning a 10-round unanimous decision over very stubborn southpaw Alberto Palmetta in their 147-pound battle.
James (28-2, 12 KOs) won easily by scores of 99-91 and 98-92 twice yet believed he could have been even better.
“I’m pretty sure everybody can see that layoff affect me. 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,” said James.
“I could see everything and hear everything that they wanted me to do, but as I was trying to go through with their instructions, I just wasn’t coming off as sharp as I should’ve been. I definitely felt like I won the fight, but I believe I could’ve done much better. I know that I’m a lot sharper. I know that my endurance is a lot stronger. I just had a lot of time off and my body is still getting back in shape. I’ll be back for sure.”
James started well, working his mid-range game and keeping Palmetta (18-2, 13 KOs) away with combinations and body shots.
After outboxing Palmetta over the first half of the bout, James turned it on in the seventh, throwing more although he was getting hit far more than normal. Even so, he remained in control, rocking Palmetta with successive straight right upstairs. Palmetta couldn’t turn the tide although he wasn’t ever seriously hurt.
When the bell ended the round, James, looking visibly spent, walking slowly back to his corner.
Palmetta started well in the ninth, working the body, and forcing James to bend and twist under the pressure. James replied later in the round by catching Palmetta, once again coming forward, with right uppercut that had Palmetto backing up.
“I thought it was an even fight, that I was the aggressor throughout against a former world champion, a taller opponent with longer reach than me,” Palmetta said. “I also like to counter, but I ratcheted up the pressure in the second half of the fight. Maybe it looked like Jamal James was superior in the first half because he kept being conservative and countering.
“I’m not leaving with what the judges said, I’m keeping what the fans, told me after the fight. They thought I had won and that really meant something to me. I’ll be back. I’ll be a world champion one day.”
In the 10th, Palmetta pressured James and won the round, but by then, he was buried on the scorecards.
“I know I can be a champion again because I was a champion before,” James said. “I have to stay focused. Stay in the gym and back and study this fight – my last to fights – and step it up.
“Thanks to everybody in Minneapolis for coming and showing me love.”
Elvis Rodriguez takes a majority decision over Joseph Adorno
Elvis Rodriguez is now closing in on world title contention. After a slow start, seemingly from the longest layoff of his career, the 140-pound lefty came on to drop Joseph Adorno twice and earn a 10-round majority decision.
The 27-year-old Rodriguez (14-1-1, 12 KOs) won by scores of 95-93, 97-91, with one judge handing in a 94-94 tally.
“I hadn’t fought in a long time. I had a long layoff. I was a little rusty but once I found my hook, I found my distance,” Rodriguez said.
Adorno (17-2-2, 14 KOs) used a successful body attack early on, and then Rodriguez steadily climbed. A hefty, looping right hook staggered Adorno in the seventh, and Rodriguez followed with a flurry that downed Adorno for the first time in his career.
Adorno never seemed to recover.
“I thought I had him once I landed that right hook, but he got up,” Rodriguez said. “He’s a warrior and a good fighter. The seventh round was huge, that’s when I truly started to win this fight. I have to give credit to Adorno for being savvy and knowing how to keep his distance before then.
Rodriguez put the exclamation point on his performance with a knockdown in the 10th, though it seemed that Adorno, 23, may have slipped on a wet area of the canvas. Nevertheless, referee Jon Schorle counted it as a knockdown in favor of a Rodriguez who pulled away during the second half of the fight.
For a closer look at Matias vs Ponce, check out our fight night page.