Even with a title fight within reach, only fight has remained on the mind of Subriel Matias.
It just so happens to be the next one in the queue.
“This rematch is necessary,” Matias told BoxingScene.com of his upcoming rematch with Petros Ananyan. “ I want to become world champion, but I need to avenge this loss in order to make things right in my career. I need to redeem myself.
“Before I can even think about becoming world champion, I need to focus on redemption first.”
That opportunity comes for the Puerto Rican knockout artist, who has a chance to avenge the lone loss of his career. Matias has earned two straight stoppage wins over unbeaten opposition since his stunning ten-round points loss to Ananyan in their February 2020 clash at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Matias was undefeated and won all his career fights by knockout heading into the bout, which served as part of the televised undercard preceding an ESPN/Fox Sports Pay-Per-View. The headliner saw Tyson Fury (31-0-1, 22KOs) wipe out then-unbeaten Deontay Wilder (42-2-1, 41KOs) inside of seven rounds to win the WBC and vacant lineal heavyweight championship, though with Matias’ loss serving as the evening’s first significant upset.
Eager to prove his worth in the loaded junior welterweight division, Matias refused to accept a soft touch or even any claim of emerging on the comeback trail.
The first fight since that loss came in October 2020, when Matias (17-1, 17KOs) stopped unbeaten Malik Hawkins inside of six rounds as part of a Showtime telecast from Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. A more competitive affair came in his next—and most recent—outing, trading heavy blows with unbeaten Batyrzhan Jukembayev before prevailing via eighth-round stoppage in their IBF title semifinal eliminator last May 29 at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California.
Waiting in the wings is an eventual showdown with Argentina’s Jeremias Ponce (29-0, 19KOs). It could potentially come with the IBF junior welterweight title at stake, should reigning undisputed lineal/WBC/WBA/IBF/WBO champion Josh Taylor begin vacating belts following his February 26 title defense versus WBO mandatory Jack Catterall.
For now, the biggest fight to be made for Matias is the one that will air live on January 22 from Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City. The 29-year-old from Fajardo, Puerto Rico enters as the favorite despite having previously lost to Armenia’s Ananyan (16-2-2, 7KOs) and believes the major difference in the fight comes down to preparation.
“The only thing I had to change between the first fight and this rematch was the way that I trained,” admits Matias. “That has been resolved. I don’t make the same mistakes twice. The mistakes I made last time, those have been resolved.
“Petros will be seeing a different Subriel Matias on fight night, the fighter you’ve seen throughout my career—that fighter didn’t show up that night. That’s my fault and I have worked hard to correct that.”
Matias-Ananyan airs as part of a Showtime tripleheader, headlined by WBC featherweight titlist Gary Russell Jr. (31-1, 18KOs) in a mandatory defense versus Philippines' Mark Magsayo (23-0, 16KOs).
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox