By Jake Donovan
The plan for the past year for Daniel Ponce de Leon has been to secure a showdown with countryman Jhonny Gonzalez.
It remains the plan mere weeks into 2012, only the former 122 lb. titlist realized he needs to do more end to make such a fight a lot more enticing than is presently the case. The hope is for Saturday’s 12-round bout with Omar Estrella to be the first step towards creating any sort of buzz.
I have to keep going forward,” Ponce de Leon said in response to a 2011 campaign that saw the Mexican lose to Adrien Broner and Yuriorkis Gamboa in separate HBO-televised ring appearances. “I learned a lot from both fights, and didn’t take any punishment in either, other than the headbutt (against Gamboa). All I can do is build on the experience and move forward.”
Last year’s pair of setbacks marked the first time in Ponce de Leon’s career in which he went an entire year without a win. The stat comes with a bit of an asterisk, as his points loss to Adrien Broner was of the highly disputed variety.
“A lot of people thought I beat Broner, and I still believe to this day that I won that fight,” Ponce de Leon (41-4, 34KO) insists. “But I learned more defense from that fight, and better footwork from the Gamboa fight. I’m a better fighter from the experience.”
He plans to prove that this weekend, when he faces Estrella in their headlining bout in Ensenada, Mexico, which will air live on Televisa and also on AT & T’s website ( www.att.net/boxeo ).
The 24-year old Estrella (15-3-2, 10KO) doesn’t boast any wins against anyone of note, but enters the fight riding a four-fight win streak and having not been stopped or dropped since his pro debut.
More appealing to Ponce de Leon is the company that his opponent has kept, which only adds to the must-win mentality he carries into this bout in hopes of reaching his long term goal.
“This fight is another step closer to fight for the WBC featherweight title. I know Estrella hasn’t fought the fighters I’ve faced, but he’s trained with some of the best – Erik Morales, Humberto Soto, Antonio Margarito, Antonio DeMarco. I’m taking this fight seriously. I’m going to come back with a big win and make a statement.”
Ponce de Leon enters this fight with a new team, having recently signed with Espinoza Boxing Club in southern California, where he presently lives and trains. Often times, changes come from knee-jerk reactions to a loss, which is often interpreted as passing the blame.
For Ponce de Leon, the change serves as peace of mind and allows him to just fight.
“I feel more confident. I fight; they take care of the business side. Good things will happen as we move towards a world title. My dream is to be in position to fight Jhonny Gonzalez.”
That goal is one that his new handlers have every intention of reaching, or at least pursuing to the point of exhaustion.
“We told Golden Boy that we wanted Gonzalez and Orlando Salido,” states Frank Espinoza Sr. “We know that Ponce de Leon is ready and wants to fight for a world title and Golden Boy Promotions will do everything in its power to get us to a world title shot.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter at twitter.com/JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to [email protected]