Subriel Matias moved past his worst night at the office by delivering arguably the best performance of his young career.
The hard-hitting junior welterweight from Fajardo, Puerto Rico broke down previously unbeaten Malik ‘Iceman’ Hawkins en route to a 7th round stoppage win Saturday evening from a crowdless Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut. Matias scored the bout’s lone knockdown in round six, with the ringside doctor advising referee Johnnie Callis that Hawkins was no longer able to continue 0:01 of round seven.
Both boxers sought to establish themselves in a high contact opening round. Hawkins was effective in using lateral movement to stay out of the punching range of the stalking Matias, though the 6’0” Baltimore product failed to put his height and reach advantages to proper use.
Matias was effective in cutting off the ring in round two, from there pouring on the attack and making Hawkins feel his pain. The charismatic Puerto Rican was warned for a low blow, but kept the bulk of his attack upstairs with the damage well evident on the face of Hawkins.
After a punishing round three, Hawkins was warned by trainer Kenny Ellis to show more on the offensive front while also remembering to get out of harm’s way. The advice didn’t fully take, as Hawkins managed to counter Matias’ right hands with return fire of his own though opting to fight on the inside.
Time was called prior to the start of round five, as the ringside physician gave Hawkins a firm look to determine whether he was fit to continue. Action resumed, with Matias continuing to score with right hands as well as left hooks upstairs. A pair of left hooks floored Hawkins in round six, although the latter of the two appeared to land behind the back of Hawkins’ head. It was ruled a knockdown, and effectively the beginning of the end of the contest.
Hawkins (18-1, 11KOs)—a stablemate and longtime childhood friend of two-division titlist Gervonta Davis—was eager to continue in round seven, though the medical staff wasn’t quite as accommodating. Time was once again called for an examination, this time advising the referee to stop the contest.
Judges Tom Carusone, John McKaie and Don Trella all had Matias ahead 59-54 at the time of the stoppage.
Matias returns to the win column, improving to 16-1 (16KOs). The bout was his first since a points loss to Armenia’s Petros Anonyan this past February in Las Vegas. The win came through sheer force, landing 137-of-506 punches for a 27% connect rate according to Compubox, compared to 994-of-353 (27%) for Hawkins. Matias was 122-of-36 in power punches.
The bout served as the opening leg of a Showtime-televised tripleheader, headlined by an interim welterweight title fight between Sergey Lipinets and Custio Clayton.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox