Liam Paro credited life’s tough blows for his ability to effortlessly roll with the punches of one of boxing’s most feared power-punching titleholders, Subriel Matias.

The 28-year-old Australian won the IBF junior welterweight title by unanimous decision at the Coliseo Juan Aubin Cruz Abreu in Manatí, Puerto Rico, defeating the Puerto Rican champion in hostile territory.

Paro (25-0, 15 KOs) may have become a star overnight with his victory over Matias (20-2, 20 KOs) who had developed a cult-following thanks to his frightening power. The usually high-volume puncher Matias was unable to let his hands go during the fight. 

“I've been through hell and back in life. I've had a harder fight mentally than that,” Paro said after his title win on Saturday. “I keep proving everyone wrong, and I just took the biggest test, man, and came out on top.”

Paro complimented Matias and the Puerto Rican fans, noting the loud and rambunctious fight atmosphere. He praised Matias as both a champion and a puncher.

“I knew it was going to be hard; Matias is a tremendous champion,” Paro said. “That's my hardest fight to date. He's tough, man. He hits hard. You know, he's got 20 knockouts for a reason.

“I knew it was going to be hostile coming to the lion’s den,” Paro said. “But I always said it is going to be a better chapter in the book when it’s all said and done.”

With the win, Paro is now targeting all the top names at junior welterweight. Richardson Hitchins recently defeated Gustavo Lemos to become the IBF mandatory opponent. Current titleholders include Isaac Cruz (WBA), Alberto Puello (WBA interim), Devin Haney (WBC), and Teofimo Lopez (WBO).

“I've proved that I'm at the top here,” Paro said. “I just took out the boogeyman. I am the man now. I am the captain. Come and get it.”