After a disappointing 2011, Daniel Ponce de Leon got back to his winning ways with an entertaining sixth-round stoppage of Omar Estrella on Saturday in Baja California, Mexico.
De Leon (42-4, 35 knockouts) only fought twice last year, but the former WBO 122-pound beltholder lost a controversial 10 rounder to current WBO 130-pound beltholder Adrien Broner and an eight-round technical decision to THE RING’s No. 1-rated featherweight Yuriorkis Gamboa.
De Leon didn’t embarrass himself in his HBO-televised losses, especially during the Broner fight, which many observers thought he won, but the 31-year-old veteran wants another title shot and he knows he won’t get one unless he gets back in the “W” column.
The southpaw slugger from Chihuahua, Mexico, did that on Saturday, but it wasn’t easy.
Estrella (15-4-2, 10 KOs), a solid boxer and decent puncher from Tijuana, traded power shots with De Leon in the first and second rounds. The 24-year-old upstart dropped De Leon to the seat of his trunks in the second round, but the knockdown served as a wake-up call for the veteran.
De Leon attacked and outworked Estrella in a fast-paced third round. He backed Estrella to the ropes in the fourth, working the younger man over with hard and accurate body-head combinations. De Leon backed off a bit in the fifth, choosing to bomb Estrella from the outside, but he resumed his pressure and volume punching in the sixth round, a combination that proved too much for the game Tijuana native.
In the co-featured bout of the Golden Boy Promotions card, 23-year-old bantamweight prospect Leo Santa Cruz (19-0-1, 11 KOs), of Lincoln Heights, Calif., scored a fourth-round stoppage of Alejandro Hernandez (24-9-2, 13 KOs), a 25-year-old former flyweight title challenger from Mexico City.