Ponce de Leon vs. Lopez On June 7th
By Sean McDaniel: In what’s almost sure to be a bout with a great deal of sparks flying between both fighters, WBO super bantamweight champion Daniel Ponce de Leon (34-1, 30 KOs) will be defending his title against his number #1 challenger Juan Manuel Lopez in a 12-round title bout on June 7th, at the Boardwalk Hall, in Atlantic City, New Jersey. De Leon’s opponent, the 24 year-old Lopez, a five-time National champion in Puerto Rico, and is considered by most people to be the top prospect in the super bantamweight division.
It is a bit surprising, though, that Lopez is already getting a title shot after only his third year as a professional fighter, for it would seem that as good as he is, he probably needs another year or two to mature before being put into a title fight with someone as powerful and experienced as de Leon. Lopez has good power, and fights in a very smooth, almost relaxed style. When he punches, he doesn’t seem to be throwing all that hard, that is, until you see the results of his shots, which often produce knockdowns. He does have some flaws. His speed and his power, however, aren’t on the level of a fighter like de Leon., for one thing. While Lopez has knocked out 19 of his 21 opponents, that appears to be more of a product of his soft quality of his opposition more than a result of true devastating knockout power.
Lopez’s defense is also fairly mediocre, which is to say that his offense appears to be doing most of the work for his leaky defense. He often tends to go right at his opponents, trying to pressure them early and score a knockout. If he opts to use this style against de Leon, who also comes forward constantly much in the same manner, something has to give. I doubt, however, it will be de Leon – the harder puncher of the two – who will be the one forced to take a backwards step.
De Leon, 27, will be making his 7th title defense of his WBO super bantamweight belt that he won in October 2005 with a 12-round unanimous decision victory over Sod Looknongyantoy.
Since that time, De Leon has been a virtual knockout machine, stopping five of his seven opponents inside the distance. With only one loss on his record, dating back to February 2005, in which de Leon lost a 12-roound unanimous decision to Celestino Caballero, in a fight that was much closer than the final scores indicated. In reality, the fight was closer to a draw than it was to the lopsided scores that were awarded the decision to Caballero. Since then, de Leon, a power-punching, heavy pressure southpaw, has worked harder than ever in improving on his boxing skills – which is as far as I can tell, his only weakness.
In a division loaded with talented fighters such as Rafael Marquez, Israel Vazquez, Caballero, Steve Molitor and Rey Bautista, de Leon may be the best pure puncher of the bunch. He punches incredibly with either hand, has an incredible right hook, and a straight left hand that uses to put his opponents to sleep. His speed is much better than most people give him credit for, almost as fast as Marquez and Molitor. De Leon’s power, however, is what sets him apart from his opponents and what makes him such a force in the division. Against top level opponents, like Gerry Penalosa, Bautista and Reynaldo Lopez, de Leon makes them look average as he blasts them with his much bigger punches, making it look easy.
I see De Leon coming out strong in the early rounds and immediately establishing him as the aggressor, hitting Lopez with hard straight lefts to the head, jabs to the body and hooks to the head. Lopez will probably make the mistake of thinking that he can go after de Leon, and will forget about his defense like he has in most of his fights. This, unfortunately for Lopez, will be the factor that leads to his downfall, for de Leon will nail him with one two huge left hands, and stun him.
Once he has him in trouble, de Leon is an exceptional finisher and will quickly take him out, probably after two or three knockdowns. The referee will likely give Lopez the benefit of the doubt, wanting to give him more of a shot than other fighters due to his status as one of the top prospects in boxing, but in the end de Leon’s power will make it final as he sends Lopez down for the final 10 count.
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