Jeremias Ponce wants to remind fans Saturday night that they’re still developing boxing champions in Argentina.

The Buenos Aires native grew up admiring Argentinean legends Marcos Maidana, Sergio Martinez and Lucas Matthysse. Well aware of his country’s rich boxing tradition, the prideful, undefeated junior welterweight contender understands how much it would mean to join them on Argentina’s list of champions if he can defeat favored Puerto Rican knockout artist Subriel Matias.

Ponce, 26, and Matias, 30, will fight for the vacant IBF 140-pound championship in the 12-round main event of a “Showtime Championship Boxing” tripleheader at The Armory in Minneapolis.

“What I’m excited most about is to be able to raise the Argentinian flag up high to see,” Ponce told through a translator, “for everyone to know that Argentinian boxing is still here, very much alive. I want to make my country proud.”

Ponce (30-0, 20 KOs), the IBF’s number one contender in the junior welterweight division, took up boxing at 14, late compared to many contemporaries. He went 43-2 as an amateur before he made his pro debut in September 2015.

Most of Ponce’s professional fights have taken place in Argentina, but he traveled to England for the most impactful win of his seven-year career.

Ponce stopped British contender Lewis Ritson in the 10th round of their 12-round bout in June 2021 at Vertu Motors Arena in Newcastle, England, Ritson’s hometown. Ritson (23-2, 13 KOs) was a 3-1 favorite versus Ponce, who dropped Ritson three times in the 10th round on his way to pulling off an upset that helped put Ponce in position for this title shot.

Ponce eventually was named the mandatory challenger for Josh Taylor’s IBF junior welterweight title. When it became clear Taylor, who was the undisputed 140-pound champion at that time, wanted a rematch with England’s Jack Catterall, the IBF ordered Ponce to box the second-ranked Matias (18-1, 18 KOs) for its interim championship.

Once Scotland’s Taylor (19-0, 13 KOs) gave up the IBF belt late last August, the IBF mandated a Ponce-Matias match for its permanent championship.

“We wanted to fight [Taylor],” Ponce said. “We felt that we deserved the opportunity, but that’s in the past and we are really excited to fight Subriel Matias.”

His wait was long, but Ponce appreciates that he’ll finally get his title shot Saturday night.

“I just tried to remain centered because if you thought about the wait too much, then you could go crazy,” Ponce said. “So, I focused on my training and I knew, in the end, everything was in the hands of God. Now I’m here, ready to show the fans what I’m capable of.”

Showtime will televise two 10-round bouts before Ponce and Matias meet in the main event of a tripleheader that will start at 9 p.m. ET.

Minneapolis’ Jamal James (27-2, 12 KOs), a former WBA world welterweight champ, and Argentina’s Alberto Palmetta (18-1, 13 KOs) are set to fight in Showtime’s co-feature. Junior welterweights Elvis Rodriguez (13-1-1, 12 KOs), a Dominican southpaw from Santo Domingo, and Joseph Adorno (17-1-2, 14 KOs), of Allentown, Pennsylvania, will open the telecast in a 140-pound encounter.

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.