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Daniel Ponce de Leon


30-year-old featherweight contender Daniel Ponce De Leon may not have been as heavily hyped as some of his peers from the Olympic Class of 2000, but among boxing insiders (and especially his opponents), the Mexican Olympian quickly gained rave notices as not only a fighter to watch, but as a future world champion – a destiny he fulfilled on October 29, 2005 when he decisioned Sod Looknongyangtoy to win the WBO super bantamweight title.
 
Born in Cuauhtemoc, Mexico, the southpaw, looking to follow in the footsteps of past and present Mexican greats like Julio Cesar Chavez, Salvador Sanchez and Marco Antonio Barrera, turned to boxing at an early age. Needless to say, as a descendent from the Tarahumara Indian tribe of northern Mexico, Ponce De Leon sees himself as a modern day warrior in the ring.
 
Ponce De Leon’s early success in the amateur ranks (which included victories over US opponents in US-Mexico dual meets as well as countryman (and future world champion) Roberto Leyva) earned him a spot on Mexico’s 2000 Olympic team.
 
Although Ponce De Leon lost a close decision to the Ukraine’s Vladimir Sidorenko, the youngster’s boxing dreams were just beginning, and with a style more suited to the pro game, it was just a matter of time before he started to make his mark in the punch for pay ranks, especially given his aggressive style and concussive punching power.
 
Ponce De Leon made his professional debut on March 31, 2001, with a first round stoppage of Servando Solis in Juarez, Mexico.  Incredibly, Daniel would fight seven more times that year, including twice each in May and November.  All of his victories (no defeats) were by knockout, and word got around about the knockout artist from Cuauhtemoc.
 
In 2002, three more wins followed (all by KO), and on August 17, 2002, just 15 days after his previous fight, Ponce De Leon was matched up with Idelfonso Martinez in a ten rounder for Martinez’ WBC Youth Bantamweight title.
 
Before an appreciative crowd in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Ponce De Leon blitzed Martinez and broke his nose before the referee intervened early in the third round.  And while his first pro title meant a lot to him, Ponce De Leon’s sights were set on a world crown, something observers believe will be just a matter of time.
 
On February 22, 2003 in Mexico City, Ponce De Leon defended his Youth title for the first time, scoring a second round TKO over Trinidad Mendoza. 
 
After that bout, Ponce De Leon, who signed a promotional deal with Golden Boy Promotions, fought three times in California in 2003, with all of his wins coming by knockout, including victories over veterans Francisco Tejedor (TKO1) and Marcos Badillo (KO3).
 
In his first nationally televised bout (on Telefutura) on January 16, 2004, Ponce De Leon easily dispatched of Jesus Perez in Hidalgo, Texas, dropping him three times before the referee stopped the contest in the opening round.
 
But just a month later, on HBO Latino’s “Oscar De La Hoya Presents Boxeo De Oro”, Ponce De Leon was at his best as he systematically broke down tough Cesar Figueroa in six rounds on February 26, showing that there was more than just concussive punching power in his repertoire.
 
After knockout wins over Ivan Alvarez and Anthony Martinez, Ponce De Leon went the distance for the first time in his career, and did it in style, impressively outpointing Carlos Contreras over ten rounds on June 11.
 
On October 22, it was another first for Ponce De Leon as he won his first major professional title, knocking out former title challenger Emmanuel Lucero in three rounds to earn the vacant NABO bantamweight crown.  And less than a month later, Daniel was back in the ring, knocking out tough veteran Julio Gamboa with a single punch in the fourth round on November 19, finishing out an impressive year for the Mexican warrior.
 
Ponce De Leon suffered his first professional setback when he was decisioned over 12 rounds by awkward Celestino Caballero on February 17, 2005, but even in defeat, Daniel showed his championship heart as he kept fighting until the final bell rang.
 
Returning to the gym shortly after his only loss, Ponce De Leon is more determined than ever to rise to the top of the junior featherweight division, and back-to-back knockout victories over Ricardo Barajas and Phillip Payne put him in position to challenge for the vacant WBO championship on October 29, 2005 against Thailand’s unbeaten Sod Looknongyangtoy.
 
In that bout, De Leon was impressive from bell to bell, earning a well-deserved unanimous decision over the tough Thai fighter to earn his first world championship. 
 
Now, the truly hard work begins as De Leon fights to keep his title.  He got off to a good start as a world titlist on May 27, 2006 when he destroyed Gerson Guerrero in just two rounds to retain his crown for the first time, and on July 15, he scored a spectacular one punch, first round knockout of the man he beat for the title, Sod Looknongyangtoy, in a bout destined to receive knockout of the year honors for 2006. 
 
On October 21, 2006, De Leon put his title on the line for the third time with an 8th round TKO of tough contender Al Seeger, and in March of 2007, he notched defense number four with a decision win over former world champion Gerry Penalosa.
 
De Leon continues to demonstrate day by day that he is one of the most impsing fighters today, after destroying the previously undefeated Filipino star, Rey “Boom Boom” Bautista, with a first round knockout at the 2007 Boxing World Cup in Sacramento on August 11, 2007.
 
After a keep busy fifth round knockout of Reynaldo Lopez in a non-title fight at the Morongo Casino Resort and Spa on September 28, 2007, De Leon defended his crown on December 8, with a hard-fought 12 round unanimous decision win over Eduardo Escobedo.
 
He would lose the title via an upset first round TKO to unbeaten Juan Manuel Lopez on June 7, 2008, but after a short break, Ponce De Leon returned to the ring on October 25th of last year, knocking out tough Argentinean Damian Marchiano in the fourth round of his first fight on the road back to the championship.
 
On April 25, 2009, Ponce De Leon made his featherweight debut with a near-shutout 12 round decision over Marlon Aguilar that earned him the NABF featherweight title, and on September 5th, he moved closer to a world title opportunity by decisioning Roinet Caballero over 12 rounds in a WBA featherweight elimination bout.
 
Ponce De Leon made his first start of 2010 on February 20th a successful one, as he knocked out Orlando Cruz with a body shot in the third round to win the vacant WBC Latino featherweight title, and on May 1st, he fought in the United States for the first time since 2008, decisioning Cornelius Lock over ten rounds on the Floyd Mayweather vs Shane Mosley undercard in Las Vegas