IBF junior welterweight champion Subriel Matias 19-1 (19) says bad life choices early in his career cost him his unbeaten record.
In February 2020 the 31-year-old Puerto Rican faced Petros Ananyan at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada on the undercard of the second fight between WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder.
Armenian-born Russian Ananyan was 14-2-2 (8) at the time and had lost two of his previous three bouts. He Matias down in round seven and went on to win a close unanimous decision by scores of 96-93 and 95-94 twice.
The loss served as a wake up call for Matias. He knocked out Ananyan in the ninth round of their 12-round rematch one year later.
“The Subriel Matias that you saw in 2020 is nothing like the one that you’re gonna see right now,” said Matias ahead of his maiden world title defence against Shohjahon Ergashev 23-0 (20) at the Michelob Ultra Arena at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada this Saturday night.
“Like right now, I’m at 300 percent compared to the one that was in Vegas in 2020, where I admit that, you know, that I was smoking a lot of pot. I had vices that didn’t allow me to be at a hundred percent. But now, 300 percent and ready to show the fans that the champ is here and ready to put on a great show.”
Matias faces a tough test in the unbeaten Ergashev, a heavy-handed southpaw from Uzbekistan who has a knockout ratio of almost 87%. The fight looks like a shootout on paper with bookmakers installing Matias as a firm favourite.
But the champion isn’t getting ahead of himself, saying he still needs to get in the ring and execute his plan to win.
“I can’t say that I consider myself the favourite,” Matias said. “What I do have is the confidence in myself after what I’ve done in training camp. But to say that I’m a big favorite would be assuming a lot of things considering that boxing is unpredictable.
“Look at what Ananyan did in 2020. So I am not about to underestimate my opponent and I am gonna go out there and bear the fruits of my preparation.”
The Matias vs Ergashev fight will be part of the huge Showtime pay-per-view card headlined by David Benavidez vs Demetrius Andrade at super middleweight and also featuring the return of WBC middleweight champion Jermall Charlo against Jose Benavidez Jr in a non-title bout.
It is a big platform and a new audience for Matias to perform in front of. He swears he will not make the same errors he did against Ananyan three years ago.
“Most importantly, God has given me the opportunity to come back to Las Vegas and redeem myself, fix the mistake that I made in 2020,” he said.