By Miguel Maravilla
Photo: German Villasenor/Team Ponce De Leon
Former two-division world champion Mexican slugger Daniel Ponce De Leon (45-5, 35 KOs) will get a shot at redemption when he takes on former world champion Puerto Rico’s Juan Manuel Lopez (33-3, 30 KOs) in a rematch on Saturday March 15 live on Showtime Extreme Boxing from the Coliseo Ruben Rodriguez in Bayamon, Puerto Rico. We caught up with Ponce De Leon at his gym the Ponce De Leon Boxing Club in Montebello, California as he begins preparations for the rematch with Lopez. “We met back in 2008 and he beat me so now I look forward to the rematch,” Ponce De Leon told Fightnews.com
The first fight at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City and Ponce came in with a 34-1 record as he was defending his WBO super bantamweight title for the eighth time. The young and at the time inexperienced Juanma Lopez stepped in to the ring to with a 21-0 record to face the Mexican slugger. The result was a first round TKO as Lopez rocked Ponce De Leon sending him twice to the canvas and the referee stopped the fight.
“Fights are always different. It was my eight defense. I was too overconfident heading into the fight and he caught we cold in the first round but that fight is in the past,” Ponce said. “I had a different team, manager and trainer then later on I made some changes.”
Since the Lopez fight, both fighters have gone different paths and career changes as Ponce has polished up his skill and has matured in the ring as he continues to pack a punch. Ponce went on to his next seven fights before giving Adrien Broner and Yuriorkis Gamboa a run for their money losing back to back decisions in a pair of tough fights and went on to win his second world title in September of 2012 against Jhonny Gonzalez in winning the WBC featherweight title by an eight round technical decision.
“I was different back then. I never thought in the ring as a boxer. Before I used to always jump on top of my opponents, but now I have revolutionized into a different fighter.”
Lopez defended his WBO title he won from Ponce five times before he moved up to featherweight winning the WBO featherweight title over Steven Luevano and was sweeping through the featherweight division before being stopped a pair of times by Mexican veteran Orlando Salido. Lopez went on to win a pair of knockouts and in his last fight was stopped by Mikey Garcia in four rounds.
“I see him the same way everyone else sees him. He hasn’t been the same he has gone down and is a different fighter,” said Ponce De Leon on Lopez. “I asked for the rematch a long time ago and this is the perfect time to be fighting him.”
2013 was a different year for the “Tarahumara Warrior” as he lost his WBC featherweight title to stablemate Abner Mares being stopped in the ninth round in a fight he was starting to come on. Since losing his title Ponce won a lopsided unanimous decision over Joksan Hernandez in his last fight in November. The 33 year old former world champion will begin to intensify his training as he is always active in the gym as he gears up for his rematch with Lopez.
“Now I look forward to getting ready for the rematch, work hard to go into the fight in top shape, very well prepared. I want to win this fight,” Ponce De Leon said.
He will now head into hostile territory fighting in Puerto Rico, Lopez’ backyard. Ponce De Leon-Lopez will be a scheduled ten round bout for the WBO International super featherweight title headlining the Showtime Extreme Boxing card part of the Danny Garcia vs. Mauricio Herrera undercard.
“I have everything stacked against me fighting him in Puerto Rico. I don’t want to leave it in the hands of the judges, the knockout is important it’s a must,” Ponce De Leon concluded.
Follow me on Twitter @MigMaravilla