Matias takes bigger stage after Dadashev tragedy


LAS VEGAS — Junior welterweight contender Subriel Matias won’t forget what happened seven months ago, but he also doesn’t plan to let it dictate the rest of his career.

Last July 19, Matias, a big puncher from Puerto Rico, stopped then-unbeaten rising contender Maxim Dadashev in the 11th round in a 140-pound title elimination bout in Oxon Hill, Maryland, a fight that was on ESPN+. The fight ended when Dadashev’s trainer, Hall of Famer and former two-division world champion Buddy McGirt, stopped it in the corner.

Dadashev, of Russia, was in distress and was eventually rushed to the hospital. He had suffered a severe brain injury and died a few days later, leaving behind a wife and infant daughter.

Matias made a low-profile return to the ring in his hometown of Fajardo, Puerto Rico, on Nov. 30 and knocked out Jonathan Jose Eniz in the fifth round but now is back in a bigger spotlight for the first time since that night.

Matias will square off with Petros Ananyan in a 10-round fight on Saturday night (ESPN and Fox Sports 1) in one of the pre-pay-per-view bouts on the undercard of the heavyweight championship rematch between titleholder Deontay Wilder and lineal champion Tyson Fury at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

After Thursday’s undercard news conference, Matias spoke with reporters briefly about the Dadashev tragedy.

“Something was wrong with him that night,” Matias said through an interpreter after being prodded by reporters to address the tragedy. “I don’t know if it was [Dadashev having problems making] weight. I heard that really might have had a lot to do with what happened in the fight. I also heard he was sparring the week of the fight. Nobody does that.”

Matias (15-0, 15 KOs), 27, did not want to go into much more detail about the situation, but he talked about what he has already overcome in a turbulent life in addition to having injured Dadashev.

“You are talking to a dead man who God has brought back to life,” Matias said.

Matias said he had seen members of his family murdered, but declined to go into detail. He also said he had survived two shootings, one in 2012 and 2013. He even partially pulled down his sweatpants to display the scars caused by bullets to both of his thighs and rear end.

He said his aim is to continue to climb toward a world title fight, and a good performance against Ananyan (14-2-2, 7 KOs), 31, an Armenia native fighting out of Brooklyn, New York, on such a big card could help pave the way.

Matias recently signed with Premier Boxing Champions, which thought enough of his potential to give him a televised fight on such a high-profile card.

“Everybody at 140 better know that I am here,” Matias said.

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