Saturday on HBO Daniel Ponce De Leon shares the spotlight as he headlines the evening in El Paso, Texas when he takes on dangerous Al Seeger.
De Leon has gained popularity for his eye-popping power and strength. Seeger, on the other hand, is a well-schooled technician capable of peppering opponents with his jab, moving, and fighting smart inside. It could be that Seeger can give De Leon much more trouble than the current WBO Super Bantamweight champion has bargained for.
The fight will mark De Leon's third fight of 2006, but a four-minute, fifty-second destruction of Gerson Guerrero was followed by a “gone in fifty-two seconds” annihilation of Sod Looknongyangtoy in July. Those two fights totaled equate to five minutes and forty-two seconds of work in the ring against an opponent looking to take his title. Against Seeger, 27-1-0 with 21 solid knockouts, De Leon likely will be pushed further than he has before, perhaps in a bout that resembles the lone loss on his record.
Back in February of 2005, Panamanian southpaw Celestino Caballero used his tactical boxing and edge in height to keep De Leon at bay on his way to winning the IBF Super Bantamweight eliminator. The title shot never materialized for Caballero (25-2-0, 18 KO) under the IBF umbrella, but after claiming and defending the WBA's interim version of the 122-pound title, Caballero is now their recognized champion. While Seeger may not be as tall as Caballero, he certainly has decent power and can box and we have seen De Leon perhaps a bit vulnerable at times.
In the first bout with Sod Looknongyangtoy, the Thai challenger with just 10 knockouts in 27 wins caught and dropped the young Mexican. Against Caballero it seemed that De Leon was nearly stopped, yet on both occasions De Leon showed a champion’s heart in fighting on. In the past the WBO champion with 27 knockouts in his 29 professional wins has implemented a “the best defense is a good offense” type of strategy, and for the most part it has worked.
The 26-year-old southpaw is incredibly strong and persistent, willing to take two to land one, but has become a better boxer in recent years. With Golden Boy Productions behind him and under the watchful eye of advisor Joe Hernandez, De Leon has developed a good body attack and is putting his combinations together nicely. With the kind of power that rattles opponents from head-to-toe and back again, he is always just one punch away from victory. After pounding out a tough but well-deserved unanimous decision over Looknongyangtoy in the first meeting, it was a ruthless decapitation the second time around as playing with fire caught up to the Thai.
Fighting the main event of an HBO PPV card is a huge opportunity for the young fighter. Titles are nice, but winning impressively on HBO PPV is what makes a fighter’s world go around. A big win in which Ponce can showcase his talents and close the show with his devastating power would be a perfect script. He is always in supreme condition and whether a knockout comes early or late, Hernandez feels that in the end Ponce De Leon will have his hand raised on Saturday night.
Al Seeger certainly won't be there to comply with making De Leon look good. The Georgia fighter has fought all but one of his bouts in front of the locals in Savannah but the one time he did leave it was to defeat talented Erik Aiken. Seeger knows that a bout fought in close quarters is a bout he likely will lose and the key to success will be to overcome De Leon’s ferocious early attack.
That is certainly a good plan, but one that is more easily drawn up than executed. It has to be noted that De Leon is a very strong fighter and is always in superb condition ready to go the 12 full championship rounds and he brings his power with him late into bouts.
The oddsmakers penciled Daniel Ponce De Leon as a strong -450 favorite to emerge victorious and that number has already been bet up to -550 on the Chihuahua-born banger. The total rounds for betting purposes had been set at 9.5 with an Under bet -150 with the current Under price -165 and the Over getting back +135.
It seems most bettors are of the impression that De Leon is the classier fighter of the two and will win the fight, but that he may be taken a bit deeper than in recent bouts. I think they may be right.