Former junior featherweight titleholder Daniel Ponce de Leon of Mexico says that he will be in the right weight class to knock off unbeaten featherweight counter part Yuriorkis Gamboa when they meet in an HBO televised bout from Atlantic City, N.J., on Saturday night.
The 31-year-old de Leon and the 29-year-old Gamboa (20-0, 16 knockouts) will meet at Boardwalk Hall.
"I’m looking forward to it. Gamboa is a very good fighter. He is tough. But I fought the best in the past," said the 31-year-old de Leon. "I have fought them all, and I’m looking forward to this fight because after this, it's a world title fight."
Ponce de Leon is coming off of a 10-round, unanimous decision loss to unbeaten junior lightweight Andrien Broner (21-0, 17 KOs) in March.
"It was an opportunity and I took it because I felt I could beat Broner. I wanted to check to see how I felt at 130. But right now 126 is best for me," said de Leon, who was making only his third appearance as a junior lightweight against Broner.
"Maybe some time in the future if it presents itself and it is a good opportunity, I’ll take it again. But right now, I feel very good at 126."
De Leon was cheered by fans at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., many of whom believed that he deserved to get the decision over Broner.
"Everybody saw the fight. I took the fight because an opportunity was presented to me," said de Leon.
Broner ended a seven-fight winning streak that had included four knockouts for de Leon, including two straight stoppages.
De Leon's previous loss before Broner had come by first-round knockout against ex-WBO Juan Manuel Lopez (30-1, 27 KOs), who dethroned de Leon as WBO junior featherweight titleholder in June of 2008.
The loss to Lopez ended a 10-bout winning streak that had included seven stoppages for de Leon, who previous setback had been by a unanimous decision loss to ex-titleholder Celestino Caballero (34-4, 23 KOs) in a junior featherweight bout in February of 2005.
"My weight, you know, I feel more comfortable at 126," said de Leon. "That’s what this fight will be at, and I’m ready for this fight."
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com