By Rick Reeno & "Mr. Boxing" Giancarlo Oquendo
WBC featherweight champion Daniel Ponce De Leon (44-4, 35KOs) received some bad news on Monday, when he was informed that his scheduled defense on March 2nd was canceled, because mandatory challenger Jayson Velez injured his ankle and withdrew from the match. Ponce De Leon vs. Velez was going to headline a Showtime televised tripleheader at Apollo Theater in New York City.
"Now we have to wait for another opponent. I was ready for the fight on March 2. It's a shame that Vélez did not want to fight, and now we have to wait for someone else. I have to stay on track, continue training," Ponce De Leon stated.
Former two division champion Abner Mares (25-0-1, 13KOs) recently said that he was targeting the winner of Ponce De Leon vs. Velez. Mares captured belts at 118 and 122 and recently vacated his WBC title to pursue a third championship at 126.
Ponce De Leon is ready for the match, and even willing to do it on March 2.
"Abner Mares also said that he wants to fight. If he is ready for the [date of] March 2, we will fight," Ponce said.
Ponce vs. Mares is a big fight and certainly not within Showtime's budget for the show on March 2. That fight, if it happens, would likely take place in Los Angeles or Mexico.
Frank Espinoza, who manages both Ponce De Leon and Mares, agrees.
"That would be a very big fight for both of them and there isn't enough time to promote that kind of fight. The date is only a few weeks away. I don't believe the Apollo Theater is the right location for that fight. And financially there isn't enough money available to make that fight on the March show," Espinoza said to BoxingScene.com.
Espinoza has advised Ponce to continue training with the hope that Golden Boy Promotions is able to squeeze him in on another date. As far as rescheduling the fight with Velez, that's certainly up in the air. Former champion Jhonny Gonzalez (52-8, 45KOs), who Ponce decisioned last year, has a rematch clause that he plans to exercise. Gonzalez returns on February 23 in Mexico. Ponce might be able to schedule a quick fight in the next couple of weeks, but the obligation to Gonzalez will start to approach in the near future. Velez needs at least 4-6 weeks to heal his ankle.
"That's right. I told Ponce to continue training because we don't know what Golden Boy might have for us. We'll have to see. I don't know if the fight with Velez will get a new date. Golden Boy may not be able to get another television date [for Ponce-Velez] in the next couple of months and we do have that rematch with Jhonny Gonzalez. Right now we don't know what's going to happen," Espinoza said.