Matias Aiming for Prograis After Stopping Ponce

Subriel Matias is targeting a unification bout with WBC junior welterweight titlist Regis Prograis following his fifth round TKO win over Jeremias Ponce of Argentina to claim the IBF 140-pound belt in Minneapolis on Saturday night.

Puerto Rico’s Matias improved to 19-1, with all 19 wins coming by way of knockout, when Ponce’s corner withdrew their fighter following a fifth round in which he had been floored for only the second time in his career.

“Regis Prograis, I’m coming for you,” said Matias afterward. “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.”

Ponce, 30-1 (20 KOs), started the contest strongly, storming out of his corner and throwing 98 punches in an action-packed first round. Matias, however, adjusted in round two, stepping inside of Ponce’s punches and landing powerful combinations in close, with his short, sharp left hook an especially effective weapon. The two continued to trade at close quarters during a closely contested round three, before Matias began to separate himself in the fourth.

After stunning Ponce with a left hand late in that frame, Matias stepped up his output in the fifth, landing 47 percent of his power punches and sending Ponce to the canvas with a series of left hooks and an uppercut to the body with just seconds remaining in the round. Ponce beat the count and staggered to his corner, but his corner signaled to referee Mark Nelson that their man had taken enough punishment.

Although the crowd made clear its dissatisfaction with the stoppage, Matias claimed afterward that he saw it coming.

“I wasn’t really surprised,” he said. “Once I saw how his corner reacted, I saw that he 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.”

"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.”

Matias was exultant after spending nearly a year away from his family, training in Mexico for his first world 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.”