Unbeaten challenger Shohjahon Ergashev (23-0, 20 KOs) believes he can knockout IBF light welterweight champion Subriel Matias (19-1, 19 KOs) tonight in their fight on Showtime PPV at the Michelob Ultra Arena in Las Vegas.
There’s a strong possibility that the Matias vs. Ergashev fight could steal the show from the headliner between David Benavidez & Demetrius Andrade,
Ergashev, 31, seemed to have Matias unnerved on Friday when the two came together for a face-off. You could tell from the body language that Matias looked worried and not all confident when stood across a smiling, smirking Ergashev, who had to be held back.
The Puerto Rican Matias has won his last four fights since losing to Petros Ananyan in 2020 by a ten round unanimous decision in 2020, but he’s not faced anyone particularly talented and definitely nowhere near the ability of Egashev.
Matias has a lot of power, but his defense and punch resistance are his main flaws. He gets hit too much, and he doesn’t react well when nailed by hard shots.
Egashev & Matias will be fighting on the undercard of the David Benavidez vs. Demetrius Andrade card tonight on Showtime PPV.
Ergashev confident of victory
“Matias is a guy that will throw all those punches, but this fight reminds me of when I fought Juan Diaz,” said Paulie Malignaggi to ProBox TV. “Although Egashev can actually punch, but Egashev’s ability to control range to step just outside and inside and transition very well into offense, a powerful offense at that, can offset a lot of the footwork issues that Matias has.”
It’s going to be difficult for Matias to get his shots off if Ergashev doesn’t stand in front of him to make it easy for him to land. Matias may have trouble trying to get near enough to land more than one or two shots at a time, as Ergashev is going to be hitting & moving all night like he always does.
“Matias, for the most part, has had guys that were right in front of him, who were guys that he could track down really well,” said Malignaggi. “He does cut off the ring and bring pressure, but if you’re paying for cutting off the ring. If you’re paying for closing the gap the way Ergashev makes you pay, you start to get hesitant.
“Once you start getting hesitant in closing the gap, then you can’t get your punches off, because all of Matias’ offense is very short shots. All those short six-inch Joe Louis shots. They’re very beautiful to watch and exciting to watch, but you’ve got to be in range in order to do it.”
The short punches that Matias specializes in are going to be difficult for him to land without Ergashev staying still, and that’s the entire problem. Matias will need to chase him around the ring, looking to trap him all night. Can he do that for twelve rounds? Probably not.
“Yes, Subriel is a knockout artist, but I am also a knockout artist. Let’s see how bad he really is. I think I can make it a short night,” said Ergashev.
Matias & Ergashev – both with nightmarish styles
“He’s already a world champion, but making a statement and becoming somewhat of a household name or someone they’re throwing in with the top guys in the 140-lb division, which is absolutely the best division in boxing,” said Chris Algieri about IBF light welterweight champion Subriel Matias, who defends against Shohjahon Ergashev.
“Both of these guy’s styles are nightmare styles to fight. You got a guy, like Matias, who is constantly coming forward. Teddy used the word, ‘Relentless,’ which is a perfect description of his style. He comes forward, he’s a two-fisted banger with power in both hands.
“He doesn’t mind getting hit, will stand right in front of you, grill to grill, and hang away, body-head. Whatever you give him, he’s taking. He’s a very, very dangerous guy. He’s got a very good gas tank too. His engine is good.”
Matias would be overjoyed if Egashev stood at close range, slugging it out with him like his last opponent Jeremiah Ponce did, as it would give him the opportunity to unload his big shots.
“He’ll come forward all night long and bang away with both hands,” said Algeri. “He doesn’t care about getting hit. He’s here for a good time, not a long time in terms of how many big punches he takes in these big fights.
“Ergashev is a guy that has actually blended the amateur and pro-style quite well. He has that good in & out, that little twitchy pull-back. He has that pull counter. Those are the type of guys where you think you’re going to hit them, and then you just miss. You’re just off balance, and then he cracks you.
“His transition from his back foot to his offense is excellent. That’s one of the best things that he does, and if he can get a guy like Matias, who is kind of tailor-made for him because he’s coming forward, he’s so eager, he’s aggressive over that front foot.
“If you can pull on him, and make reach and get over that front foot and come back with that big left hand that he has, and he mixes it up well. He throws it straight and to the body real well,” said Algieri about Ergashev. “He’s got s good shot.
“The body is key, too. When you’ve got a puncher, you got to make them miss, and you got to touch their body. You got to sap that power out of them, especially a guy like Matias, who comes on and is powerful late. He carries that power late.
“If you get to touching that body early on, you take away some of that power late. I think, stylistically, it’s a very fun fight. Whoever can fight their fight, they’re going to win. It’s pretty easy to see who is going to win this fight.
“Whoever can impose their will and fight their style. If Ergashev can fight off that back foot, fight that middle distance, let those power shots go, and not take any damage, I think he’s got this fight.
Range control important
“If Matias can get in his grill and just bang away with both hands, I’ve never seen Ergashev get hit real clean or get hit by someone that can punch like Matias, so I’m not sure he’s going to be able to take it,” said Algieri.
It’ll be interesting to see if Ergashev will accommodate Matias by fighting him in close all night. Ergashev is a thinking fighter, and his team likely will have told him to avoid getting into primitive firefights with Matias, knowing that gives him his best chance of winning.
“A guy like Matias, who has 100% wins with KO wins, it kind of leaves me to believe that if he’s there getting hit, he’s not going to be there all night long either. It’s a good fight, a great match-up of styles,” said Algieri.
“Range is the most important thing,” said Paulie Malignaggi. “I remember Manny Pacquiao hitting the bag before the Mayweather fight, and people said, ‘How was Mayweather going to deal with that?’ I remember thinking the same thing.”
Range is going to be a problem for Matias because he doesn’t have a great long game, and will prefer the fight take place in close to media range. If he can cut off the ring on Ergashev, perhaps he can force him to brawl.
“You can’t get close in range and get all those punches off anyway,” said Malignaggi. “You’re not even going to throw them because you’re going to be so busy trying to close the range, and if you’re not allowed to, you’re not going to get those punches off.
“I think Matias is going to walk into some shots trying to close that range. We’ve seen Matias’ chin. He got hurt by Petros Ananyan. So, we know it’s a little bit susceptible.”
That’s what we saw in Matias’ loss to Ananyan. He got hit a lot while coming in close, and ended up losing a decision. In their rematch, Matias scored a ninth round stoppage, but he was having a lot of problems in that fight too before it ended.
A lot of these guys that come forward a lot do show that, they’re willing to take a shot. But against big punchers, guys like Egashev that are here for a short time, not a long time. A guy like Ergashev, if he hits you too many times, you’re going to be here for a short time, too,” said Malignaggi.