Alberto Zacarías, Jeremias Ponce’s trainer, explained why he decided to stop the recent world title fight against Subriel Matias. The two boxers were battling for the vacant IBF junior welterweight world title.
After a fierce back and forth of war, Matias hurt Ponce in the fifth round and sent him down in the closing moments.
Before the start of the sixth, Ponce's corner pulled him out.
“(Ponce) went down in the fifth round, and the last shot was to the body," Zacarias told Izquierdazo. "But, actually, he received a hard punch to his forehead. That's where he was hurt. There were still 10 seconds to finish the round, and that’s why he had the opportunity to finish the round. If that knockdown comes in the first minute of the round, I would have stopped the fight right there."
Zacarías revealed the exchange that he had with his fighter in the corner after the fifth round ended.
“He came to his stool," remembers Zacarias. “And I asked him, ‘how are you?’, and he answered that he was ok. ‘where are you?’, and he answered well. ‘What’s your opponent’s name?’, and he answered. ‘Do you have a headache?, are you hurt?’. He answered all my questions correctly. ‘Well, anyway, you are not going out’. He told me, ‘No, I’m going out, Alberto, I’m fine’. That’s where I told him, ‘Here in the corner, I’m the boss’. That's what we told him."
Zacarías is the head trainer of the Santos Zacarias Boxing School in Argentina, a place where former world champions such as Victor Palma and Juan Manuel Coggi were formed.
In his school, Zacarias follows a philosophy about the chain of command.
“Ponce wanted to keep fighting”, Zacarias explains. “So, I’m the only person responsible for stopping the fight. My son, Patricio, and I. The boxer decides inside the ring and during the round. In the corner, we (trainers) take decisions and it is our responsibility. I have been wrong many times, but as long as I have the possibility to stop a fight, I will."
One of the most important keys to stop the fight, according to Zacarias, was that there was a difference of power between both fighters.
“I stopped the fight because we needed to stop it," Zacarias said. “There was a difference of power. There was not a difference in skills. The fight was close. The real problem is the power advantage that one has over the other. When Jeremias punched Matias - and I can assure you that Jeremias has a heavy hand - he couldn’t move Matias a bit. On the other hand, when Matias landed on Jeremias, as was the case in the second round, he hurt him."
“(Matias) is a beast. It was like punching a wall. Jeremias’ hands were bouncing off when he landed on Matias. It is something I had never seen. I never saw a fighter that strong."
Zacarias is proud of his fighter and his performance.
“I had not seen a fight like this in a long time," Zacarias said. “Two young guys leaving everything to be world champion. There were five rounds of permanent pressure, very close, but with an overpowering Subriel. Why would I keep risking my fighter? Just to have a decorous defeat by points? No, sir. No way. My father told me that we are in charge of taking care of our fighters."