Ponce de Leon Turns the Page
By Steve Kim, MaxBoxing (Jan 18, 2012) Doghouse Boxing (Photo © German Villasenor)
Ponce De Leon
For featherweight Daniel Ponce de Leon, his 10th year as a professional was one he'd rather forget. Yeah, he made some money as he appeared on HBO twice in 2011 but he was 0-for-2 in a pair of bouts against Adrien Broner and Yuriorkis Gamboa. The awkward, hard-hitting southpaw is looking forward to a much more productive 2012 as prepares to face Omar Estrella this weekend in Ensenada, Mexico.

“A year of a lot of experience,” is how he described the past year, through his friend, Marco Lopez, before his training session last week at the Maywood Boxing Club.
But by “experience,” does he really mean “disappointing”?
“There was a fight [against Broner] where I thought I got robbed, number one, and then the one with Gamboa that was up in the air; anything could've happened,” he recalled. “But I feel very comfortable. I feel complete because I gained a lot of experience.”
There's no doubt which outing was the most bitter. “The Broner fight because I felt I won that fight and the people know I won. So hopefully, we can get a rematch with that fight.” The Broner fight was contested at junior lightweight and since then, Ponce de Leon has moved back down to featherweight. The goal for him and those who handle his career is very simple as he heads into the last stretch of what has been a productive career.
“Try to get him a big fight and the fight I've been wanting to make for years is the Jhonny Gonzalez fight,” said Golden Boy Promotions matchmaker Eric Gomez. Gonzalez holds the WBC featherweight strap. “Back when Jhonny was with us and they were both champions, we were trying to make that fight for the longest time. We made a significant offer for Jhonny last year when he had captured the title. They turned it down. That's the goal; that's one of the fights. I think it'll be a terrific fight. I think that's it's a fight that the Mexicans will get behind; it can sell. It'll be exciting and if it's not him, any of the other champions, everybody else.”
One change that Ponce de Leon has made in the background is picking up the services of the respected Frank Espinoza, who will guide his career from this point forward. “I was alone for four years, so I felt I needed someone to back me up and guide me and Frank's doing a good job and now he's going to help me,” said Ponce, who has a record of 41-4 with 34 knockouts to his credit.
Espinoza, whose current roster already includes the likes of IBF bantamweight titlist Abner Mares, Carlos Molina, Antonio Orozco, Luis Ramos and Ronny Rios, believes that Ponce de Leon has one more run in him at the world-class level.

“I feel he does,” said the manager, best known for guiding Israel Vazquez and Martin Castillo in the past. “I thought the last fight that he had was a competitive fight. Gamboa did win the fight but the fight before that with Broner, Ponce won that fight but it went the other way. So I still think there's a lot left with him. It still seems as though he has a lot of power. He's still young and he still has the passion for the sport.” And his vision mirrors Gomez’s, in regard to Ponce de Leon's future. “We want to get him some fights, get him back on track again. After coming off two losses, we want to get him some wins. The plan is, down the line, hopefully in 2012, we're trying to possibly get a fight with Jhonny Gonzalez. That's a fight we want or an Orlando Salido. Anybody at 126, I think that's where he should be.”
Ponce de Leon is now 31 (an age where you're not exactly old- but not exactly young either) and according to those around him, he still has the same energy and focus toward the sport. Lopez, who is a daily presence around the fighter, says, “I see that he's very motivated and he loves what he does. I was with him in his last training camp in Mt. Baldy for seven weeks together, 24 hours a day, seven days a week and what I saw from him is that he's one of the most disciplined fighters- probably the most disciplined fighter- I've ever known. He's on schedule as far as his training, his motivation, everything. He's very disciplined, a very hard worker.”
The reality is that Ponce de Leon needs a strong work ethic. His success in this business has come as a result of getting everything out of very limited, natural talent. Roy Hobbs he ain't. It's not unusual for him to be back to the grind in the gym a week or two after earning six figures in his previous fight. He may not be great but he's a pro. He says, “I have even more passion [for boxing] because all these years have served as experience and good paydays motivate me even more.”
Ponce de Leon’s goal for the New Year is very simple.

“To win this belt,”- the bout versus Estrella this weekend is for a regional WBC title- “and then after that, go for a world title and fight a Salido or a Jhonny Gonzalez.”
This fight is taking place at the Bodega Del Boxeo in Ensenada, a bit of a road game for Ponce de Leon.
“It's a concern,” admitted Espinoza, who just recently inked his charge. “I'm not too happy about going to Ensenada. It was changed from Tijuana but it's still in Mexico and Omar's from Tijuana. He's Erik Morales' fighter. But yeah, I did feel uncomfortable going over there to face him. I accepted the fight but with the condition that we have a fair playing field.”
Gomez explained to Maxboxing, “The agreement we made with both sides and we talked to the commission and they were sensitive with the concerns that Ponce had and his team, we agreed on neutral officials, all the officials being from California.”
Just a day before their appeal with the IBF was scheduled, Golden Boy Promotions dropped its case over the December 10th contest in Washington D.C. between Amir Khan and Lamont Peterson. On Friday, the WBA had ordered an immediate rematch between the two. Golden Boy would eventually send out this press release:
Due to the fact that there was only to be partial representation of fight officials who were involved with the December 10, 2011 Amir Khan vs. Lamont Peterson bout at tomorrow’s scheduled appeal hearing of the fight’s outcome before the IBF, Golden Boy Promotions and Team Khan have decided to withdraw their appeal and focus their full attention on Amir’s next fight.
Golden Boy Promotions and Team Khan are pleased to have been vindicated by the WBA’s recent decision to mandate an immediate rematch and still hopes that Peterson will honor earlier statements in which he asserted that he would be happy to agree to a rematch. In that vein, Golden Boy Promotions and Team Khan have announced they would agree to a 50/50 split of worldwide revenues derived from a rematch (including those derived from the United Kingdom) should Peterson agree to participate and hope that this will be both financially and professionally satisfying to Peterson and his team.
Here's my take on this whole situation: I think Golden Boy got the distinct feeling that the IBF was not going to rule in their favor but had already gotten what they wanted from the WBA (which was, at the very least, to line up an immediate title shot for Khan one way or the other). I've always felt that unless both the WBA and IBF mandated rematches, Peterson would not have taken an immediate return bout versus Khan. However, Golden Boy and Khan are offering the terms they spoke of in that press release- well, they'd have to think long and hard about it (although it's not clear what the purse splits would be in regard to the rules in these situations with the WBA and IBF).
Speaking of junior welterweights, Lucas Matthysse is taking a stay-busy fight in his home country of Argentina, which has been moved back to February 10th. 
“It had something to do with the government down there where they're going to be fighting in [Matthysse]’s hometown [Puerto Madryn, Chubut] and I think they're going to participate in the show, might be some revenue. So it made sense to move it,” explained Gomez. Imagine that; a fighter from Argentina who actually fights in his home region and doesn't just wait around for HBO dates. 
As for what bigger fights could be in his future, Gomez stated, “One of the fights we've discussed with him- and both sides are willing to do it - is Humberto Soto. It would be a terrific fight. Both are very, very exciting fighters and that's a fight we've discussed and we just gotta get them in position. Get them the opportunity to either fight for a title or fight one of the big names.”
Sign me up for that one. Regarding Soto, it's becoming now-or-never. I mean, didn't he leave Top Rank for Golden Boy for the opportunity to be in significant match-ups?
More on this tomorrow but Main Events announced that the new co-feature on Saturday night in Philly on NBC Sports Network will be a heavyweight bout between Maurice Byarm and Bryant Jennings. A suitable replacement for Eddie Chambers (who was to have faced Sergei Liakhovich) was not found...Looking at the WBA rankings at 140 pounds, Khan is rated number two between the top-rated Jhoan Perez and Soto, who is rated third. Their “regular” champion is Marcos Maidana, who faces Devon Alexander on February 25th in a welterweight fight...Super middles Adonis Stevenson and Jesus Gonzalez will square off on Feb. 18th at the Bell Centre in Montreal for the number two spot in the IBF...Bernabe Concepcion will not be facing Gary Russell Jr. on Feb. 11th as it seems he's having some contractual issues with his side...Great to have ABC’s “Pan Am” back...The Colts are making a lot of moves. I mean, they're doing everything short of going back to Baltimore...Is Shaq really serious when he says Andrew Bynum is the best big man in the league over Dwight Howard?...

More of Steve's recent work below his contact info...

I can be reached at k9kim@yahoo.com and I tweet at www.Twitter.com/stevemaxboxing. We also have a Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/MaxBoxing.

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