LAS VEGAS — In a shocker, Daniel Ponce de Leon emerged victorious over WBC featherweight beltholder Jhonny Gonzalez, coming away with an eighth-round unanimous technical decision victory before a sold-out crowd at Saturday night’s Showtime-televised event at the MGM Grand.
The bout ended when a nasty gash emerged over the right eye of Gonzalez (52-8, 45 KOs), of Mexico City, after which it was determined that Gonzalez could not continue and that the result must depend on the judges’ cards.
Judges Dick Houck and David Sutherland had it 79-72, and Jerry Roth, 77-74, all for Ponce de Leon (43-4, 35 KOs), a Mexican-born resident of Huntington Park, Calif., and former 122-pound titleholder.
“He was blocking my punches. He had a really great defense. He’s a strong fighter, but he didn’t punch as hard as I thought that he would,” said Ponce de Leon, who bled from a cut high on the right side of his scalp. “I thought that I dominated him from the first round. He didn’t want to fight any more. You could tell.”
Ponce de Leon ended a 12-fight winning streak that included 11 knockouts for Gonzalez, who was dropped in the sixth round of a match up that took place on the undercard of a main event featuring WBC junior middleweight titleholder Saul “Canelo” Alvarez opposite Josesito Lopez.
Gonzalez had scored 11 straight knockouts heading into April’s unanimous decision over Elio Rojas, whom he floored with a 10th-round body shot. Gonzalez had not suffered defeat since falling by third-round knockout in May of 2009 to Toshiaki Nishioka, whom he dropped in the first round.
“It was a really tough fight, but it was the clash of styles of a southpaw and a right-hander that cause the head-butt,” said Gonzalez, who said that he will take advantage of the rematch clause. “I want the rematch, but I want to take it to Mexico, and not fight on his promoter’s turf.”
In an earlier bout, IBF bantamweight titleholder and Mexican-born Leo Santa Cruz (21-0-1, 11 KOs), of Lincoln Heights, Calif., scored a sixth-round TKO over Puerto Rican-born veteran contender Eric Morel (46-4, 23 KOs), of Madison, Wis., who was stopped for the first time in his career.
Also on the undercard of the Mexican Independence Day weekend event, hard-punching Argentine Marcos Maidana (32-3, 29 KOs) scored an eighth-round technical knockout over Mexican-born welterweight rival Jesus Soto Karass (26-8-3, 17 KOs), whom he dropped in the seventh round.
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com