Despite his inactivity, Josh Taylor remains the rightful, lineal king of the Jr. welterweight division.

Taylor holds that position with a lot fewer belts than he did last time he stepped in the ring…and given the current state of boxing it’s probably for the better. Extra belts make for incentives to make more interesting fights in the absence of a champion available to defend. It was one incentive for the excellent Regis Prograis-Jose Zepeda match last year.

It’s an incentive Saturday night (Showtime, 9 PM EST) for what could be a hell of a fight for the vacant IBF belt. Between them, there is only one loss in 48 combined stops and both have shown the ability to crack.

According to CompuBox, Subriel Matias and Jeremias Ponce both average over seventy punches per round and both take over 30% of the punches launched by their opponents. High output and leaky defense is rarely a recipe for anything other than good TV.

Let’s get into it. 

Stats and Stakes

Subriel Matias

Age: 30

Titles/Previous Titles: None 

Height: 5’8  

Weight: 139 ¼ lbs.

Stance: Orthodox

Hails from: Fajardo, Puerto Rico

Record: 18-1, 18 KO

Press Rankings: #4 (Ring), #7 (TBRB), #9 (ESPN)

Record in Major Title Fights: 1st Title Opportunity

Last Five Opponents: 90-16-5 (.833)

Notable Outcomes, TBRB/Ring Rated Foes: None

Additional Current/Former Titlists Faced: None 


Jeremias Ponce 

Age: 26

Titles/Previous Titles: None

Height: 5’11 

Weight: 139 ½ lbs.

Stance: Orthodox

Hails from: Buenos Aires, Argentina

Record: 30-0, 20 KO

Press Rankings: Unranked 

Record in Major Title Fights: 1st Title Opportunity 

Last Five Opponents: 104-52-7 (.660)

Notable Outcomes, TBRB/Ring Rated Foes: None

Additional Current/Former Titlists Faced: None

The Pick: This isn’t a fight between two contenders who cleared a violent path through the top ten to demand a title shot. If fans are looking for resumes, there aren’t deep ones coming into this scrap and those who scratch their heads at sanctioning body rankings can feel as justified as ever here. 

Sanctioning bodies aren’t inherently merit based in how fighters get title shots. We know that. It doesn’t mean that the process doesn’t sometimes work out for fans anyways. This is the sort of fight between two fresh faces whose styles appear to compliment each other perfectly. Resumes are built in real time…and one of them will have a better one because of each other by Sunday.

Matias appears to be a little quicker and more fluid than Ponce. Ponce has longer arms, is at least a couple inches taller, and can offset any speed disadvantage by using his length to work from outside in. Ponce is slightly less active than Matias but it’s still such high volume that being first could be critical in this contest.

Matias is the bigger puncher, has faced a generally better quality of foe, and has shown the ability to adjust and avenge a loss. Matias can be explosive all night with knockouts as early as the first and as late as the ninth. Ponce’s best win is probably Lewis Ritson, a night where he broke down a solid foe and stopped him late. In order to win this weekend, Ponce is going to have to keep chipping away while Matias will be a steady countering danger in exchanges.

The guess here is Matias will appear to be taking more damage as the fight gets past the early rounds as both men slow down. Matias’s better explosiveness should be enough to keep the fight close and eventually undo the efforts of Ponce late. The pick is Matias by late stoppage.      

Rold Picks 2023: 7-0

Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, a member of the International Boxing Research Organization, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America.  He can be reached at