LAS VEGAS — Legendary Mexican trainer Nacho Beristain was a disgruntled man during Saturday night’s post-fight press conference at the MGM Grand, feeling as if his fighter, Jhonny Gonzalez, had wrongfully come up on the short end of an eight-round unanimous technical-decision loss to countryman Daniel Ponce de Leon.
In defeat, Gonzalez (52-8, 45 KOs) was dethroned as WBC featherweight beltholder before a crowd of 14,275 after the bout ended when a nasty gash emerged over his right eye from a clash of heads with Ponce de Leon (43-4, 35 KOs). 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 on the underard of a fifth-round knockout by WBC junior middleweight titleholder Saul “Canelo” Alvarez over Josesito Lopez.
A Mexican-born resident of Huntington Park, Calif., and former 122-pound titleholder, Ponce de Leon dropped Gonzalez in the sixth round and ended his 12-fight winning streak that included 11 knockouts.
“I thought Jhonny had recovered well from the knockdown, which was more of a push,” said Beristain. “I had Gonzalez up by two or three points at the time of the head butt. But Ponce de Leon is a Golden Boy Promotions fighter.” Golden Boy promoted the event, which was called “Knockout Kings.”
“So I think they’re trying to take care of their company’s own fighters. Judges are human, and they make errors, but this was more unusual. So that’s why they made that decision. Ponce de Leon didn’t win it fair and square.”
The feeling was not a new one to Beristain, who was in a similar position in November of last year.
That’s when Beristain’s four-division titlewinner Juan Manuel Marquez lost by disputed majority decision to Manny Pacquiao, with whom Marquez has also battled to a draw and lost by split-decision previously.
Marquez rebounded from the November loss with April’s unanimous decision over Sergei Fedchenko for the WBO’s junior welterweight belt, making him a four-division titlewinner.
On Monday, Beristain and Marquez (54-6-1, 39 knockouts) will be in Los Angeles along with Pacquiao (54-4-2, 38 KOs) and his five-time Trainer of the Year, Freddie Roach, for the commencement of a three-city promotional tour that will include stops in New York and Mexico City on Wednesday and Friday.
Pacquiao chose to face Marquez on Dec. 8 at the MGM Grand over a rematch with Tim Bradley (29-0, 12 KOs), whose controversial split-decision win in June dethroned Pacquiao as the WBO’s 147-pound titleholder and ended his 15-bout winning streak that included eight stoppages.
Beristain spoke to RingTV.com briefly about Pacquiao-Marquez IV, his rivalry with Roach, and the inclusion and influence of controversial strength and conditioning guru Angel Hernandez for the second straight fight.
RingTV.com: Can Marquez score a knockout against Pacquiao this time, as he told us that he will?
Nacho Beristain: Well, we’re going to train as hard as we always do, we’re going to do our best, and we are going to try to knock him out this time.
We believe that we can do that if we do what we know Juan is capable of doing, and if he improves like we know that he can improve.
RingTV.com: Roach says that their gameplan has to be improved on for Marquez, but do you think that Pacquiao can make any adjustments over the last three meetings, or is he going to be the same Pacquiao?
NB: I respect Freddie Roach. He’s a great trainer, but we’ve shown them three times already that we can beat him, and that we did beat Manny Pacquiao.
So I don’t think that there can be much of a difference in what they can do, and we will show that again when we fight on Dec. 8.
RingTV.com: Do you see a personal challenge in facing Roach, as he does in facing you?
NB: I admire Freddie Roach as a trainer, and I also admire him because he’s enduring Parkinson’s. Freddie Roach is a great person and a great human being.
And, yes, it will be a great challenge for me to go against him again as a trainer when Marquez fights Manny Pacquiao again.
RingTV.com: How much more of an improvement can Marquez make in his second straight fight working with Hernandez, who claims that he will be even bigger, stronger and faster than he was against Pacquiao the last time?
NB: I agree. Since that last fight, Marquez has been maintaining himself through his conditioning. He’s won a fight, and now he’s ready to get started with his hard training for Pacquiao again.
Hernandez is a great addition to the team and a big help as far as getting Marquez in top condition, so he’s going to be a much better fighter this time.
Photos by Chris Farina, Top Rank
Photo by Naoki Fukuda
Photo by Chris Farina, Top Rank
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org