The finish line is finally in sight for a four-man box-off that has been in play for more than a year.
BoxingScene.com has confirmed that a request was approved for an interim title to be at stake for a previously targeted junior welterweight clash between Puerto Rico’s Subriel Matias and Argentina’s Jeremias Ponce. The two were previously due to meet in a final title eliminator to determine the IBF mandatory challenger for lineal/WBC/IBF/WBO champion Josh Taylor. The sanctioned agreed with the reasoning that it made more sense for the fight to come with an interim title at stake, should Taylor not remain at 140 long enough to honor the mandatory.
The IBF has ordered a 30-day negotiation period for Matias and Ponce to reach a deal for the fight. Matias is represented in talks by TGB Promotions on behalf of Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) and manager/local promoter Juan Orengo. Ponce is represented by Frank Warren’s Queensberry Promotions.
The fight has been on hold since both fighters won separate semi-final title eliminators last spring. Matias (18-1, 18KOs) got the better of an entertaining slugfest with unbeaten Kazakh contender Batyr Jukembayev, scoring a stoppage win after eight rounds last May 29 in Carson, California. Ponce (30-0, 20KOs) followed suit two weeks later, earning a career-best win in a tenth-round stoppage of Lewis Ritson last June 12 on the road in Newcastle, England.
It was agreed by all parties involved that it was best to wait out the plans of Scotland’s Taylor (19-0, 13KOs), who had claimed undisputed championship status from his twelve-round, unanimous decision win over Jose Ramirez last May in their battle of unbeaten, unified junior welterweight titlists. Taylor was on the hook for a WBO mandatory title defense versus England’s Jack Catterall, with their fight delayed by two months and with Taylor winning a disputed split decision this past February 26 in Glasgow.
Matias and Ponce have both fought in the interim.
Matias avenged his lone career defeat with a ninth-round stoppage of Petros Ananyan this past January 22 in Atlantic City. The feat came nearly two years after Ananyan claimed an upset, ten-round points win in their February 2020 clash in Las Vegas.
Ponce has added two more knockouts to his record since beating Ritson. The 25-year-old Argentinean stopped Michel Marcano inside of two rounds last November 20 and earned a third-round stoppage of overmatched Achiko Odikadze this past April 23, with both fights taking place in Hamburg, Germany.
The Matias-Ponce winner will wait out Taylor’s future plans, whether remaining at 140 or moving up to welterweight. Taylor already relinquished his WBA title due to personal events (wedding and subsequent honeymoon) conflicting with the deadline to satisfy a mandatory title defense versus Dominican Republic’s Alberto Puello. The divisional king is currently on the hook to next face WBC mandatory and former two-time title challenger Jose Zepeda, with the fight heading to a June 10 purse bid hearing.
In the event that Taylor gives up the IBF belt, the Matias-Ponce winner will be upgraded to full champion. Any combination of his beating Zepeda and remaining at 140 or Zepeda winning the fight outright will result in a title consolidation clash immediately ordered by the IBF.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox