Paro decisions Matias for junior welterweight title

Boxing

Liam Paro traveled on the road to score a major upset Saturday night in Manati, Puerto Rico, with a unanimous-decision victory over Subriel Matias to claim the IBF junior welterweight title.

Australia’s Paro (24-0, 15 KOs) prevailed via scores of 115-112, 116-111 and 115-112 in a slugfest in Matias’ homeland. Paro was deducted one point in Round 7 for rabbit punches.

“We knew it was going to be hard,” Paro said. “… I keep proving everyone wrong. He’s tough, he has 20 knockouts for a reason. … I knew I was coming into the lion’s den.”

Paro, 28, was able to surprisingly fend off Matias’ relentless pressure. The southpaw stood his ground under duress and unleashed 1-2 combinations that stymied the champion.

Paro often boxed off the back foot. He showed the strength and power to push Matias back and gain his respect.

“It was an absolute masterclass. … it wasn’t even close,” said Matchroom Boxing’s Eddie Hearn, who promotes both Paro and Matias. “… To come to Puerto Rico, the backyard of the guy that nobody wanted to fight, that is a massive win for Liam Paro, a massive win for Australian boxing.”

The road victory was the second consecutive for Paro, who scored a career-best win in December in San Francisco with a sixth-round KO of American Montana Love.

Now, Paro has picked up a far bigger win with a decisive victory over Matias, ESPN’s No. 2 boxer at 140 pounds. The performance spoiled Matias’ homecoming in Puerto Rico, his first on the island since November 2019.

Known as one of boxing’s top action fighters, Matias (20-1, 20 KOs) previously stopped all 20 of his opponents (Petros Ananyan outpointed Matias in 2020 but was TKO’d in Round 9 of the ’22 rematch.)

Matias, 32, was making the second defense of the title he won in February 2023 with a fifth-round TKO of Jeremias Ponce. Matias stopped Shohjahon Ergashev in the sixth round of their November bout in his first defense.

But now, he’s left seeking a rematch to regain his title.

“I’m on top of the world right now, I’m honestly speechless,” Paro said. “… I’ve been a road warrior, let’s bring the big fights back to Queensland.”

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