“And the new!” were the words announced as undefeated junior welterweight Liam Paro accomplished a life goal, becoming a world titleholder by winning the IBF junior welterweight title against Subriel Matias at Coliseo Juan Aubin Cruz Abreu in Manati, Puerto Rico.

The Puerto Rican crowd waited for local hero Matias to get started, but the man who had made his past five opponents quit in the corner never showed up — or perhaps it was Paro who made him look that way.

The scores were 115-112, 115-112 and 116-111, all in favor of Paro.

A spirited Paro (25-0, 15 KOs), from Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, won round after round against a slow-starting Matias (20-2, 20 KOs), of Puerto Rico. The crowd waited for Matias to unleash his offense, but it took him three rounds to finally begin to open up. Unlike previous opponents, Paro refused to fold under Matias’ pressure. Through five rounds, it was clear that Paro was winning the fight and Matias, usually active, wasn’t throwing nearly as many punches as expected. Matias’ flat feet and inability to cut off the ring or inflict damage on Paro were his undoing, as Paro evaded him effectively in long spurts.

A subplot involved referee Luis Pabon, who warned Paro, 28, for leading with his head between Rounds 1 and 2, and scolded him again in Round 4. Matias rocked Paro at the end of the sixth round, pleasing the crowd. The power of Matias, 32, was real, and Paro’s corner spoke of a sudden urgency needed in the seventh round as Matias grew in confidence. Pabon also took a point from Paro in the seventh. Despite the shift in momentum, Paro found a second wind and returned to boxing well in the ninth and 10th.

Matias was jovial in the walkout, raising questions about whether fighting in his hometown added extra distractions. Paro seemed focused throughout, winning the 11th and staying on task as the fight went into the 12th.

Was it overconfidence from Matias or the brilliance of Paro? Perhaps a bit of both, but the previously unstoppable force of Matias was nowhere to be seen. The man who had earned each of his wins by knockout was getting out-landed by the Australian road warrior.

Unbeaten and having won a junior welterweight world title on hostile ground, Paro netted the biggest win of his career and added his name to the growing list of brilliant fighters making up Australia’s current golden age of boxing.

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