Covina, Calif. – Former junior featherweight world champion Daniel Ponce De Leon signed a contract on Tuesday that designates venerable boxing manager Frank Espinoza to guide his still thriving career.
“I still see a lot of upside to him,” said Espinoza. “We’re going to get him on the fast track.”
Inside a local Covina eatery Espinoza and his son Frank Espinoza Jr. sat with Ponce De Leon and his wife and friends and shared a meal. A California State Athletic Commission inspector met the group to witness the managerial contract agreement.
Ponce De Leon, a former bronze medal winner for Mexico in the 2000 Olympics, signed the contract knowing that Espinoza has a history of taking his fighters to the top. Fighters like Israel Vazquez, Martin Castillo and Enrique Sanchez are all Mexican fighters who captured world titles under the amiable Espinoza family.
“I’ve known him a long time,” said Ponce De Leon, 31, about his new manager Espinoza. “At my last fight we started to talk and I think he can get my career going.”
Despite back-to-back losses to Yuri Gamboa and Adrien Broner, the Mexican southpaw slugger proved he could compete at the highest level and win.
“I thought he beat Adrien Broner,”said Espinoza about Ponce, who lost by decision last year in a fight many thought was a bad decision. “He fought Gamboa and got cut but he showed a lot of power.”
Although Ponce De Leon says he achieved all of his goals he still wants to provide for his family and feels compelled to fight any world champion and especially a Mexican world champion.
“I’d like to be a world champion again and fight Mexican world champions Jhonny Gonzalez or Orlando Salido. It doesn’t matter,” says Ponce De Leon (41-4, 34 KOs). “Foremost, I’d like to retire as a world champion.”
Ponce De Leon said he’s been fighting since the age of 13 years old and sees professional boxing as his job. And there is still a job to do. One thing recently scratched off his list was marrying his wife in a church after nearly 10 years of being only legally married.
“Ever since we got married in a church everything has been good and everything is beautiful,” said Ponce De Leon who had fought the past three years without a manager. “Even signing this contract has been blessed by God.”
Espinoza said signing the Mexican slugger was a good fit for his team.
“I have a tradition of meeting a fighter and talking and if we don’t have that chemistry then I let it go,” said Espinoza who currently manages IBF bantamweight world titleholder Abner Mares who fights on Dec. 3 at the Honda Center in Anaheim. “But we get along. I look for things like that in a fighter.”
Look for Ponce De Leon to fight at least three times in 2012 under Espinoza and under Golden Boy Promotions.
“Ponce De Leon has kind of been forgotten,” Espinoza said. “But I see the drive is still there when I look into his eyes.”