Ponce De Leon aims for super featherweight title

Daniel Ponce De Leon is accustomed to being in big fights. He doesn’t always win them, but he’s not overwhelmed when he’s thrust into a main event.

The 31-year-old Mexican faces Eduardo Lazcano tonight for the vacant WBC USNBC super featherweight title at the Hard Rock Hotel. While he bounced back from consecutive losses in 2011 to Yuriorkis Gamboa and Adrien Broner by beating Omar Estrella on Jan. 21 with a sixth-round stoppage, Ponce De Leon 42-4, 35 knockouts) said he needs to win convincingly tonight to get back on the big stage and fight again for a world title.

“Those fights are in the past,” Ponce De Leon, speaking through an interpreter Thursday, said of his losses to Gamboa and Broner. “I’m thinking about the future. But it’s very important to win this fight. I’m very motivated.”

His fight with Gamboa on Sept. 9 was stopped in the 10th round after a head butt had opened a nasty cut on Ponce De Leon’s head and he could not continue. The head butt was called accidental, but Ponce De Leon isn’t so sure.

“I think I was wearing Gamboa down when he head-butted me,” Ponce De Leon said. “I felt it, and I have the scar to prove it. Was it intentional? Only Gamboa can answer that.”

Ponce De Leon doesn’t know a lot about Lazcano (24-2, 11 KOs). But he expects the southpaw from Mexico to come right at him.

“I don’t think he’ll be hard to find,” Ponce De Leon said. “I expect a hard, tough fight from him.”

If he can win tonight’s 130-pound main event, scheduled for 12 rounds, Ponce De Leon has his sights set on returning to 126 pounds and fighting either Orlando Salido (38-11-2, 26 KOs), the WBO featherweight champion, or Jhonny Gonzalez (52-7, 45 KOs), the WBC champ.

“They are the champions in my division, and I want to fight for a world title again as soon as possible,” he said.

In the co-feature, Las Vegas’ Ishe Smith (22-5, 10 KOs), who has been out of the ring for 18 months due to promotional issues, faces Ayi Bruce (21-6, 13 KOs) in a 10-round junior middleweight bout.

First bell is at 6:30 p.m., and a portion of the card will be televised on Fox Sports Net and Fox Deportes beginning at 8.

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.

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