Subriel Matias made Jeremias Ponce pay for his aggressive strategy Saturday night.

Ponce overwhelmed Matias with pressure and punishing punches in the first round of their 140-pound title bout, but Matias withstood Ponce’s onslaught, traded power shots with him for four more rounds and eventually encouraged Ponce’s handlers to stop their fantastic firefight following the fifth round. Puerto Rico’s Matias (19-1, 19 KOs), who dropped Ponce late in the fifth round, won the previously vacant IBF junior welterweight title by technical knockout in the main event of a “Showtime Championship Boxing” tripleheader at The Armory in Minneapolis.

Argentina’s Ponce lost for the first time as a pro (30-1, 20 KOs).

“What I wanted to do was to knock him out,” Matias told Showtime’s Jim Gray following his win. “I was looking to knock him out in the sixth round, so I wasn’t surprised that they stopped the fight.”

Ponce appeared to have no issue with his trainer stopping their bout before the sixth round began.

“The first thing is I’m in great health and everything,” Ponce said. “And my corner knows me better than me. And it’s better to take the precaution a minute earlier than a minute [too late]. But I wanted to continue.”

Matias, 30, and Ponce, 26, fought for the IBF 140-pound championship Josh Taylor relinquished late last August. Ponce was the mandatory challenger for Taylor’s title, but the Scottish southpaw preferred an immediate rematch with England’s Jack Catterall, which was postponed several times and eventually scrapped altogether so Taylor could fight former unified lightweight champ Teofimo Lopez on June 10 in New York.

Ponce entered the ring ranked number one among the IBF’s junior welterweight contenders. Matias was ranked second by the IBF.

Ponce took Matias’ power well until the end of the fifth round.

A flurry of punches, punctuated by a left hook to the body, put Ponce down with 19 seconds to go in the fifth round. Ponce patiently waited for Nelson’s count to reach eight before he got up.

“I saw that he was going back and that he was hurt,” Matias said, “so I’m like a lion looking for the feast and I found it.”

Matias attempted to stop him, but Ponce made it to the end of the fifth round. Before Matias dropped him, Matias’ left uppercut caught Ponce about 1:15 into the fifth round.

Matias and Ponce kept punching at a ridiculous rate throughout the fourth round. They traded punishing punches upstairs and downstairs during those three minutes.

Matias snapped back Ponce’s head with a left hook a few seconds prior to the end of the fourth round. Ponce took that shot, though, and fired back power punches of his own.

A persistent Ponce went after Matias’ body again in the third round, but Matias countered with short shots on the inside during a highly competitive three minutes of action. Ponce and Matias hammered away at each other with power punches in the final 15 seconds of the third round.

Ponce picked up at the start of the second round right where he left off in the first round, when he overwhelmed Matias with hard shots. Matias made the second round more competitive, though, by landing thudding head and body blows of his own.

Matias seemed to rock Ponce with a left hook late in the second round, which caused Ponce to hold him.

Ponce got off to a blistering start by unloading various vicious shots to Matias’ body and head as soon as the bell sounded to start their bout. Matias seemed stunned by Ponce’s work rate and had difficulty dealing with his opponent’s activity and accuracy throughout those three minutes.

“In the first round, I came out to try to get him,” Ponce said. “But he’s a tough fighter. I knew this fight was gonna be a very tough fight.”

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