Golden Boy Promotions President Oscar De La Hoya has stoked the incentive for the eight fighters involved in the Showtime-televised “Knockout Kings” event, which will happen on Sept. 15 at The MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
The boxer who produces “the best knockout of the night” will have an additional $100,000 contributed to his purse, according to De La Hoya.
The undercard of the Mexican Independence Day weekend event includes the hard-punching Argentine Marcos Maidana (31-3, 28 KOs) against Mexican-born welterweight rival Jesus Soto Karass (26-7-3, 17 KOs), as well as WBC featherweight beltholder Jhonny Gonzalez (52-7, 45 KOs), of Mexico City, pursuing his 13th-straight win against former 122-pound titleholder Daniel Ponce de Leon (43-4, 35 KOs), a Mexican-born resident of Huntington Park, Calif.
A fourth bout on the card is being finalized, but is expected to feature an IBF bantamweight title bout between Mexican-born beltholder Leo Santa Cruz (20-0-1, 11 KOs), of Lincoln Heights, Calif., and Puerto Rican-born veteran contender Eric Morel (46-3, 23 KOs), of Madison, Wis., according to De La Hoya.
“Giving all of the fighters an incentive for the best knockout of the night, we will include $100,000 to the winner of the best knockout of the night,” said De La Hoya, adding that Showtime will debut an all-access documentary focusing on Alvarez and Lopez on Sept. 5 beginning at 10 p.m.
“Obviously, these four fights have the ingredients to end in a spectacular fashion, and to end by knockout. We’re obviously hoping that we are not disappointed and don’t get any knockouts. The way that the best knockout of the night will be decided is that fans can vote through AT&T, so the fans will vote the winner. Knockout Kings is the perfect title for these fights.”
GONZALEZ EYES 31ST BIRTHDAY BASH
Gonzalez defended his belt with a unanimous decision over once-beaten former beltholder Elio Rojas in Cancun in April. Although Gonzalez won, Rojas ended the titleholder’s streak of 11 straight stoppage wins that includes a fourth-round knockout that dethroned Hozumi Hasegawa in April of last year.
Gonzalez has not lost since suffering a third-round KO to Toshiaki Nishioka in May of 2009 that ended his streak of six straight wins and five consecutive stoppages.
If the extra cash being offered isn’t more of a motivator for Gonzalez, add to that the fact that he will be fighting Ponce de Leon on his 31st birthday, and that he stopped both of his opponents when he turned 29 and 30, respectively.
Gonzalez scored a sixth-round knockout over Jackson Aisku on Sept. 15 of 2010, and a second-round stoppage against Rogers Mtagwa on Sept. 15 of last year.
“First of all, it’s an honor for me to be fighting on such an important date for Mexico, and for my country. I was just lucky to have been born on a date like that. I’m very excited and I’m very happy, and I’m motivated to be fighting on such an important date and to be fighting in Las Vegas,” said Gonzalez.
“There’s no added pressure whatsoever. On the contrary,” said Gonzalez. “It’s an honor to be fighting against such a great opponent as Daniel Ponce de Leon. We’re ready. We want to demonstrate to the world, to the public and to myself that I’m here and bigger and ready for bigger fights.”
Gonzalez also has his sights set on bigger fights beyond Ponce de Leon, potentially such as those opposite junior featherweight beltholders Abner Mares (24-0-1, 13 KOs) of the WBC, and Nonito Donaire (29-1, 18 KOs) of the IBF and the WBO.
“Yes, of course. That’s what we’re looking for. The bigger fights and the bigger names, with one of them being Daniel Ponce de Leon,” said Gonzalez. “So right now my focus and my concentration is on him, but once that date is over, and we’re passed Ponce de Leon, then we can focus on those other names.”
Would Gonzalez lose respect for Mares or Donaire if they bypassed him during their anticipated, future plans to rise in weight class?
“I think that they’ve noticed that my level of boxing has improved ever since I’ve made a change in my corner,” said Gonzalez. “That’s why they’re avoiding me and not mentioning me at all. Right now, we’re focused on Sept. 15. But after that, we’ll be calling them out and we’ll be looking for them.”
PONCE DE LEON’S BACK IN HIS WEIGHT CLASS
Ponce de Leon is coming off a unanimous decision over fellow Mexican southpaw Eduardo Lazcano in May that followed his sixth-round knockout of Omar Estrella in January.
The win over Estrella helped Ponce de Leon to to bounce back from consecutive decision losses to unbeaten fighters Adrien Broner and Yuriorkis Gamboa in March and September of last year that were contested at 130 pounds.
“I definitely learned from both of those fights. There’s always experience. They were two, tough fighters. But those were boxers, and I had to go and chase them and hunt them down and they move a lot,” said Ponce de Leon, who believes that he packs more power at 126 pounds.
“But Jhonny Gonzalez, he’s a stronger fighter and he comes forward and likes to trade. Obviously, that makes it better for me. So if he does want to come out and box and move, then we’re prepared for that as well. I’m ready to hunt him down and fight him in any style.”
MAIDANA FEELS STRONG AT 147
Maidana is coming off a one-sided loss to Devon Alexander (23-1, 13 KOs), having risen to 147 pounds to fight a left-handed boxer-puncher with attributes that had caused problems for him in the past.
But movement won’t be a problem for Maidana against Soto Karass, who is known for standing and fighting toe-to-toe battles.
“It’s totally going to be different. It’s my second fight at 147, and this time, I’m going to adapt,” said Maidana. “I know what to look forward to. Plus, it’s the style of my opponent. He’s a strong opponent and I know what I have in front of me.
Maidana will be in his first fight with trainer, Robert Garcia, who also handles Donaire, former undisputed middleweight titleholder Kelly Pavlik, former lightweight titleholder Brandon Rios and unbeaten featherweight contender Mikey Garcia, who is Robert Garcia’s younger brother.
“I felt strong at 140, but the last couple of fights, I was struggling to make the weight. So this fight, on Sept. 15, I’m going to show that I can compete,” said Maidana.
“I’m going to be a lot stronger and I can be just as strong at 147. We’re working a lot on my conditioning, and I’m working with sparring partners who are bigger and stronger, and that’s going to help me to adapt to this new division.”
SOTO KARASS DROPS WEIGHT IN ORDER TO RAISE HIS STATURE
Soto Karass is 2-3 in his past five fights, the last three of which were contested as a junior middleweight. He lost two decisions to welterweight Mike Jones before being stopped in the fifth round of a 154-pound bout against Gabriel Rosado in January.
Since then, however, he has scored consecutive victories over Said El Harrack in May and Euri Gonzalez in July by split-decision and fifth round stoppage, respectively, and believes that he may be the bigger, stronger man against the rising Maidana.
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Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com