Ponce de Leon, who lost his 122-pound title to Juan Manuel Lopez back in 2008 (a title he defended seven times since winning it in 2005. To this date, he remains one of Golden Boy Promotions’ original signed fighters to hold his world title the longest) did not sit on the sidelines after getting blasted in the first round by “JuanMa.” Instead, Ponce de Leon has fought eight times, stopping four of his foes and only dropping a highly questionable decision loss to Adrien Broner in March of this year.
While other fighters have been given multiple title shots with varied results, Ponce de Leon has waited patiently, nearly getting a crack at the number one-rated featherweight by the WBO and WBC, Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo- a fight which never came off. Ponce de Leon was supposed to fight the WBC champion Jhonny Gonzalez before the latter pulled out of the proposed bout, which was said to have happened if Ponce de Leon got past Antonio Escalante, something which he did by destroying the fighter in three bruising heats last year.
“I was told that Top Rank offered me the fight and I took it. After all, Top Rank is now working again with Golden Boy, so I jumped on it right away.
“I know it’s a hard fight but we are confident that I will win.” said Ponce de Leon after coming from a long training camp in the mountains, then putting on the finishing touches at the Maywood Boxing Club in L.A.
“I know Gamboa is fast but he has to get on the inside to throw and get his shots in. The guys who he has fought have either stayed in front of him too long or not really used speed and distance, something we are working on. Plus, I can punch,” said the fighter who looked ripped and ready. If anything, Ponce de Leon has much more experience in his 41 wins, three losses and 34 KOs than Gamboa, 20-0 (16), has in total fights.
“Ponce is in great shape. He has been eating well, training hard and is ripped. He looks like the Mexican Bruce Lee. His stamina and speed has gone up. He starts with about 90 punches during sparring and his output goes higher as the rounds go on,” said an assistant at the gym who has been working with Ponce de Leon’s conditioning.
Ponce de Leon, who can punch with either hand, has a particularly devastating straight left hand. Should the punch land flush against “Cyclon de Guantánamo,” it could easily be lights out, as Gamboa’s chink in his armor is a suspect chin, as he has been down on the canvas five times in his career against fighters not particularly known for their power.
In all fairness, Ponce de Leon has also been down a couple of times in his career, being stopped only once in the Lopez fight. Nonetheless, the fight should be a very explosive one for as long as it lasts. Look for Ponce de Leon to put all of his underrated counterboxing skills and aggressiveness to use, offsetting the punches in bunches of the defending champion on tonight.
“Despite what some people have been saying, that Ponce is in over his head, we think otherwise. I like Ponce’s chances,” said Mark Hernandez, Ponce de Leon’s manager.
“Ponce has been working hard, working very well in his boxing skills and speed. He is very focused at this point in his training. In some of his other fights, his opponents just seem just that. In this one, Ponce knows that this is a big fight and is preparing and focused accordingly for it.”
“Ponce has a big punch with both hands and as it is, someone at Top Rank is giving him respect, as there is a rematch clause in the contract. We usually don’t get one but it was there when we signed it, so yeah, someone is giving Ponce respect and thinks he can win,” added Hernandez.
Although the fight is scheduled for 12 rounds, as of press time, no title is on the line, as Gamboa lost his IBF belt when he skipped a re-weigh-in in his last fight against Jorge Solis back in March.
Gamboa did win the vacant WBA “super world” featherweight title, so that might fall in place.
Nonetheless, Hernandez believes that, title or no title in this one, a big win by his fighter will immediately propel him toward a title shot against any of the champions in the division.