Jeremias Ponce aims to steal the spotlight from Subriel Matias in his dream title bout
Argentina’s Jeremias Ponce won his title shot the hard way. And he is not ready to let that slip away without a serious fight.
The undefeated Argentine contender gets ready to face Puerto Rican knockout artist Subriel Matias on Saturday at The Armory in Minneapolis with the IBF junior welterweight belt on the line. But even though Matias has stopped all 18 of the foes he has defeated so far, Ponce (30-0, 20 knockouts) feels that he is ready to add those accomplishments to his own resume once he becomes champion.
“I believe that if I beat Matias all his exposure capital goes right into my account,” said Ponce, 26, when asked about Matias’s experience. “He may have had more exposure, or maybe he has a bigger name, but that doesn’t affect me at all. And the same goes for him, if he beats me he gets all my achievements under his belt. That’s how boxing is, and we’re aiming for that.”
Vying for the belt left behind by Josh Taylor back in August, Matias and Ponce will be headlining a card in a fight that could be the type of career-defining move that both have craved. With some of his 30 wins coming abroad in very difficult circumstances, Ponce is not leaving anything to chance in this bout, which could put his career in high gear right during his absolute prime.
“My training has been similar to the one I’ve had for every fight. I am always training hard, I know that I will have a tough opponent, in this case Subriel Matias who is a tough guy, and I am aiming for that. But we’re on our way to being at our best possible shape.
“Although the wait was too long, I never stopped training,” said Ponce, who saw this fight postponed for several reasons during the past few months, one of them being an injury during training camp. “Even when they gave us dates that ended up not happening, we trained just as hard, as if we were going to fight on that date, just in case. And that, even though most fighters would feel affected by this, it didn’t affect me. Like I said, I never stopped training, and that helped me to stay focused.”
Matias had his ups-and-downs too. He lost a 10-round unanimous decision to Petros Ananyan in February 2020 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, but avenged that loss with a 10-round stoppage win in their rematch in January 2022.
But obviously, Matias’ biggest burden has to be his fight against Maxim Dadashev in 2019, a brutal affair after which Russia’s Dadashev sadly passed away due to the damage suffered in that fight.
Matias lost to Ananyan two fights later, and some people feared he may never be the same again, but he has rebounded with a string of three stoppage wins since then, and there are no signs of him being affected by that at all.
Ponce believes that this will not be a factor in the fight.
“I don’t think that his instinct may have changed after that (Dadashev) fight,” said Ponce. “It was a tragedy, and it wasn’t his fault. He went up to get his job done, he went out to win and in order to win you have to punch harder than your opponent, you never go up with the intention of harming someone. It is something that happens, and this time it happened to him, but I don’t think it changed his instincts or anything.”
With so many knockout wins between the pair, the temptation to label this as a duel between hard punchers is there, but Ponce takes a more cautious approach.
“They’re promoting the fight as a duel between heavy hitters, but that’s because of all the knockouts that we both have. Even though the fight may not go the distance, I believe that I can counterpunch and box, and I can also try to knock him out with one punch, so I believe I am better in many aspects, not only in punching power.”
The 4-1 betting line doesn’t give Ponce any pause, either.
“I think the fight will be a very tough fight, probably the toughest of my career so far, but I see myself winning. I have a winning mentality and when a fighter gets in the ring he has to have that, go up in the ring just to try to win. And that’s what I will do.”
Diego M. Morilla writes for The Ring since 2013. He has also written for HBO.com, ESPN.com and many other magazines, websites, newspapers and outlets since 1993. He is a full member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and an elector for the International Boxing Hall of Fame. He has won two first-place awards in the BWAA’s annual writing contest, and he is the moderator of The Ring’s Women’s Ratings Panel. He served as copy editor for the second era of The Ring en Español (2018-2020) and is currently a writer and editor for RingTV.com.