By Ryan Maquiñana
Former WBO junior featherweight champion Daniel Ponce de Leon signed a managerial contract with Espinoza Boxing this afternoon.
“Frank is a good manager, and we had been talking a while about signing,” Ponce de Leon (41-4, 34 KOs) said, his words translated from Spanish. “We have a plan lined up to get back to fighting for a world title.”
The explosive puncher from Ciudad Cuauhtemoc, Chihuahua, Mexico, made seven defenses of his title before Juan Manuel Lopez ended his reign in 2008.
Since that time, he won seven bouts in a row before a current two-fight stretch that saw him lose twice on HBO this year—the first to Adrien Broner via competitive decision in March, and the other to Yuriorkis Gamboa last month by technical decision.
“I think featherweight is my best weight right now,” Ponce de Leon said. “I’d like to fight [WBC champ] Jhonny Gonzalez or [WBO champ Orlando] Salido ultimately. I’ve been working hard on my boxing skills, but I know I can still knock people out.”
Now residing in the Southern California city of Huntington Park, Ponce de Leon has looked to Frank Espinoza Sr. and Jr. to steer him back to his winning ways.
“He’s going to be fighting in January in Mexico,” Espinoza Jr. said. “The date and venue haven’t been finalized, but we’ll have something soon.”
The Espinozas, renowned for their work with Israel Vazquez and more recently, IBF bantamweight champion Abner Mares, were impressed with Ponce de Leon’s outings this year despite their respective outcomes.
“It was a close fight, but I actually had him beating Broner,” Espinoza Sr. said. “When he fought Gamboa, he just fought a great fighter but he still hung in there. We have to get him back on the right track with a couple wins, but we have great chemistry, we’re glad to have him board and get him going toward another world title.”
Espinoza Sr. confirmed that Ponce de Leon will remain at 126 pounds.
“Yes, we’re looking at him fighting at featherweight,” he said. “If Jhonny Gonzalez is still world champion when we get back up there, then we’d love to look at that. We’re looking at Billy Dib, the IBF champion, and even Salido. I think we’re going a long way. I think you’ll be hearing a lot from Daniel soon.”
Ponce de Leon, who is promoted by Golden Boy, joins an active managerial stable with a combined record of 110-2-3 (70 KOs), and he is anxious to get back in the ring and prove his new handlers proud.
“I’m happy with my decision and I’m looking for bigger and better fights in the future,” the fighter said.
Ryan Maquiñana is the boxing correspondent at Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America, and Ring Magazine’s Ratings Advisory Panel. E-mail him at [email protected], check out his blog at www.maqdown.com or follow him on Twitter: @RMaq28.