Jhonny Gonzalez vs. Daniel Ponce De Leon preview & prediction

Credit: Esther Lin / Showtime

Jhonny Gonzalez vs. Daniel “Ponce” De Leon Fight Preview and Pick to Win

On September 15, Jhonny Gonzalez defends his WBC Featherweight Title against ex-titleholder Daniel “Ponce” De Leon at the MGM in Las Vegas. This bout will take place as the main supporting bout to the Alvarez-Lopez fight and promises to offer some excitement, as these two skilled battlers go at it.

It’s fortunate that on an undercard, we get to see a title bout between these two standout Mexican veterans. Each man was formerly a titleholder at a lower weight class and their combined 80 knockouts underlies the power-punching menace they each bring to the ring. They also share in common the fact that they have both been written off, only to rebound in a big way.

  • Date: September 15, 2012
  • Site: MGM Grand Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Titles: WBC Featherweight Title: 12 Rounds

Jhonny Gonzalez, 52-7 (45 KOs), Mexico City, Mexico, WBC Featherweight Champion
Daniel “Ponce” De Leon, 43-4 (35 KOs), Chihuahua, Mexico

Credit: Esther Lin / Showtime

Gonzalez, 30, has really surprised. He was an excellent fighter who won some big ones and lost a few others. But he had been around for a long time and appeared to lose his mojo. His foothold at the top of the 118 and 122-pound weight classes had weakened after 3 stoppage defeats. In 2006, he was stopped by elite 122-pound champ Israel Vasquez and in ’08 he fell in a single shot body-punch knockout loss to aging bantamweight Gerry Penalosa.

After 6 straight wins, Gonzalez lost by stunning 3rd-round knockout to Toshiaki Nishioka. Not many expected the Japanese champion to come to Mexico and starch the hard-punching Gonzalez. It appeared to be over. For him to now be WBC Featherweight Champion is almost a freakish career turnaround for Gonzalez.

De Leon, 31, was once a knockout sensation, starting his career at 24-0 (23 KOs). He lost to Celestino Caballero, but rebounded with some nice wins, including a big win over Gerry Penalosa. He was brought down to earth when Juan Manuel Lopez stopped him in one ugly round in 2008, but as is his wont–he came back with 7 straight victories.

Then he lost a decision to junior lightweight sensation Adrien Broner in March of 2011. But I was at the Honda center that night and although my seats were a little sketchy, it certainly appeared to me that De Leon had done enough to win. Considering the fact that Broner is now one of the most promising young fighters in the sport, I think this result paints De Leon in a very favorable light. Sure, he lost a technical decision to Yuriorkis Gamboa in his next fight, but Gamboa is the total package and a clear level above his opponent in this fight. De Leon has since won two straight fights.

While you have to take your hat off for Gonzalez and his revival, a closer look is revealing. Is him becoming WBC Featherweight a result of some clever clever maneuvering? He went to Japan and knocked out Hozumi Hasegawa, which was a credible win, but over a Hasegawa who had begun to show wear. And that’s his best win at featherweight. So while his comeback is commendable, it’s not as if he beat a bunch of good featherweights. He scored one good win and a series of OK wins.

I feel Gonzalez is an imminently beatable titleholder at featherweight. He still hits hard and his ring knowledge is deep. His last win, a decision win over Elio Rojas, broke an 11-bout knockout streak. And the inner resource he showed in bouncing back from a trio of stoppage defeats was off-the-charts. But I feel that De Leon matches up reasonably well with him.

De Leon is hard-hitting, but relies more on his skills than he once did. He is solid–with good defense and a tendency to break down opponents with constant pressure. He really brings a unique skill-set to the table. At one point, De Leon appeared to be a K.O. sensation who had flattened out. Usually when that happens, it’s all over. De Leon, however, has been showing more of his boxing side and has been impressive in spots, particularly the way he resourcefully fought against Broner.

Gonzalez is maybe a bit longer with better form. In addition, De Leon’s face hasn’t been holding up very well, which could be a big problem against a sharp-hooter like Gonzalez. But De Leon is a good southpaw puncher who I feel will give Gonzalez all he can handle. I might be wrong, but I like Ponce to win a close decision.

Prediction: Daniel “Ponce” De Leon wins by majority decision.

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