CABAZON, CALIF.-A single left hand by WBO junior featherweight Daniel Ponce De Leon flattened Colombia’s Reynaldo Lopez for a knockout with Oscar De La Hoya in the audience on Friday.
It was Golden Boy Promotions first venture into the Inland Empire, an area that lies east of Los Angeles County and extends to the California-Nevada border. Ponce De Leon made an impact too at the Morongo Casino and Resort before a sold out crowd.
Ponce De Leon had recently fought in early August in defense of his world title, but took the non-title fight on short notice because it was being held on Indian land. The Mexican fighter is a member of the Tarahumara tribe in Chihuahua, Mexico.
Lopez (27-6-2, 19 KOs) had never been knocked out before, but there’s always a first time for everything.
The southpaw slugger Ponce De Leon blasted punches off Lopez’s jaw repeatedly from round one to round five. Each time he landed the impact sounded like a shotgun blast. But Lopez shrugged them off like baby taps.
Lopez, 33, had just recently fought in a world title fight in a lower weight class, so he was not an easy opponent. The Colombian fighter used his skill and rock head to ward off the Mexican’s combustive attack.
But a left to the body followed by two uppercuts finally broke through Lopez’s defense and sturdy chin. Ponce De Leon delivered a perfect left that sent the Colombian to the floor like he had been shot for a knockout at 2:39 of the fifth round. It was the first time in Lopez’s career he had been stopped.
“I didn’t know he had never been knocked out,” said Ponce De Leon (33-1, 30 KOs). “But I’m not surprised I knocked him out.”
The Tarahumara Indian who accepted the fight because it was held on Indian land, prefers knockouts wins.
“I didn’t take this fight lightly,” said Ponce De Leon, 27. “I knew he just fought a world title fight. Anything can happen in the ring.”
Lopez said he felt he was the better boxer throughout the fight, But he just couldn’t deal with the power.
“He does everything wrong,” said Lopez who lost a 12-round decision to Cristian Mijares for the WBC junior bantamweight title. “But he does hit very hard.”
The WBO junior featherweight titleholder plans to fight again in late November or early December.
Sitting in the first row De La Hoya, the president of Golden Boy, said he plans to have maybe a half dozen more fight cards at Morongo Casino. He also said he plans to fight two more times next year in May and September.
“It’s too early to say who I’ll fight, but we’ll see,” said De La Hoya who is promoting the welterweight world championship fight between Floyd Mayweather and Ricky Hatton in Dec. 8, in Las Vegas, Nevada. “If Hatton wins I’ll fight him.”
De La Hoya also defended Sugar Shane Mosley who has been mentioned in the same sentence as steroids by a sport publication.
“I’ve known Shane Mosley since we were kids,” said De La Hoya, who lost to Mosley twice including a bout where steroids was mentioned after the fight. “There has never been a question in my mind about Shane using steroids. I know he’s one of the cleanest guys out there.”
Mexico City’s Escobedo (20-2, 14 KOs) faced Colombia’s undefeated Jose Mendoza and put the first loss on the hard-hitting boxer’s ledger and captured the vacant NABO featherweight title.
The first four rounds saw both fighters looking for an advantage in an extremely tactical contest. But in the fifth round, Escobedo began to attack the body of the 35-year-old Mendoza (21-1-1, 17 KOs) and soon the openings began to unravel in the Colombian’s defense.
In the sixth round, Escobedo resumed his attack on the body then unleashed a sizzling one-two combination that flattened Mendoza. He beat the count but referee Raul Caiz decided the Colombian fighter was not fit to continue at 35 seconds into the sixth round for a technical knockout.
“I was preparing this guy for the knockout,” said Escobedo, who also has the WBC Youth Featherweight title as a featherweight. “The guy was real strong. But my trainer told me to go to the body then to the top.”
Escobedo, who is trained by the famed Nacho Beristain, spars often with Juan Manuel Marquez and lightweight prospect Vicente Escobedo. He’s not related to Vicente.
Richard Delgado won his pro debut with a technical knockout of Luis Martinez (1-1) at the end of the third round of a lightweight bout. A large cut over the left eye forced referee Caiz to stop the fight on advice from the ringside physician.
A junior welterweight bout between Enrique Colin (17-3-3, 14 KOs) and Arturo Urena (24-14-1), two Mexican fighters from the state of Sinaloa, ended in a unanimous decision victory for Colin. The judges scored it 79-73 twice and 80-72 for Colin.
Two light heavyweights from Northern California brought their battle south where Fresno’s Frank Mondejar (15-3, 14 KOs) knocked out San Francisco’s Sheldom Callum (6-16-3) with a counter left hand at 2:49 of the first round. He had dropped Callum earlier with a lead left hand earlier in the round.