By Jake Donovan
Plenty of fighters have reneged on an in-ring promise to call it a career after a defeat. But after two more days to officially reflect back on Saturday’s knockout loss to Miguel Roman, former two-division champ Daniel Ponce de Leon decided the statement he made during his post-fight interview is in fact the right – and final – call.
A former titlist in two weight classes, Ponce de Leon exits the sport with a pro record of 45-7 (35KO) following 13 years in service. The 34-year old southpaw also proudly served as a member of the Mexico Olympic Boxing squad during the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
“Thanks to each and everyone of my fans and friends whom I relied on throughout the course of my career,” Ponce de Leon stated through his official Facebook page. “I retire with a great taste in my mouth thanks to all of your support. And I will continue to follow all of my goals.”
Ponce de Leon turned pro in 2001, sprinting to a viciously thrilling start that saw the Mexican slugger score 24 knockouts out of his first 25 wins while developing as a fan favorite on Telefutura (now UniMas) and HBO Latino. The run led to his first title eliminator, where he fell short in a decision loss to Celestino Caballero in Feb. ’05.
Despite suffering his first defeat, Ponce de Leon was immediately able to bounce back while pursuing a different road to a title. By year’s end, he claimed a 122 lb. belt with a thorough points win over Sod Kokeitgym (known as Sod Looknongyangtoy at the time). The feat came just two weeks after Caballero was forced to settle for an interim title fight – and win – while having to waiting another year before claiming full title status.
The title win by Ponce de Leon was part of a 10-fight win streak - including a 1st round knockout win over Looknongyangtoy in their rematch a year later - before suffering his first knockout defeat, when Juan Manuel ‘Juanma’ Lopez drilled him inside of one round in their June ’08 title fight on HBO.
It would be another four years before the Mexican southpaw – living in southern California – landed another title shot. By then, he had enlisted in the services of noted boxing manager Frank Espinoza, who remained in his corner all the way through Saturday’s loss and Monday’s announcement.
The marriage included a featherweight title winning effort over Jhonny Gonzalez, claiming the belt in Sept. ’12. The win came just over one year following a disappointing points loss to Yuriorkis Gamoba in Atlantic City. Their cut-shortened bout was a stinker, a rarity in an otherwise thrilling ring career led by Ponce de Leon.
It was also the only time in his career to that point in which he suffered back-to-back losses. The start to that two-fight losing streak came under suspicious circumstances, however, as many believed he was jobbed in a 10-round bout with then-unbeaten Adrien Broner earlier in the year.
The title win over Gonzalez capped a three-fight win streak, but his last ever as a champion. He lost the featherweight belt in his first defense, suffering a 9th round knockout loss to Abner Mares last May.
A comeback win over Joksan Hernandez was his final victory as a pro, coming last November. Back-to-back knockout losses have comprised of his 2014 campaign, including a 2nd round knockout defeat in his rematch with Lopez earlier this year.
The loss to Roman was enough to help him realize that it’s time to move on to the next chapter of his life, a move that is fully supported by his team.
“I want to send (b)est (w)ishes to Daniel Ponce de Leon on his retirement,” Espizona said through his Facebook account on Monday. “For all the passion you gave to this sport, you deserve a great retirement. Enjoy the next chapter of your life. It was an honor to represent you.”
Ponce de Leon figures to remain heavily invested in the fight game. The charismatic boxing personality presently serves as an expert analyst for Fox Deportes’ televised boxing events.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox