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Exclusive Interview with Daniel Ponce De Leon: “[Abner Mares] is an Overrated Fighter.”


By: Sergio L. Martinez

On May 4, 2013, the MGM Grand, Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada will play host to the Mayweather-Guerrero mega-fight extravaganza. The chief supporting contest of the undercard will feature two young champions: full-blooded Tarahumara warrior Daniel Ponce Deleon is looking to make the first defense of his WBC featherweight title as he takes on red-hot pound-for-pound candidate Abner Mares.

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Less than three years ago, Mares was an undefeated bantamweight champion making the jump from solid professional to world-class fighter. His victories over fighters like Vic Darchinyan, Anselmo Moreno, and Joseph Agbeko solidified him as a top bantamweight and super bantamweight champion. Mares has now set his sights at the 126 pound division for the first time. Deleon, who is a full-fledged featherweight, believes that his opponent is making a mistake.

In an exclusive interview with Boxing Insider, Deleon offered, “He’s been coming up weight too fast. He went from bantamweight, to super bantam and now to featherweight without letting his body grow into the weight properly. Abner Mares is a good fighter but he is not as good as everyone thinks; he is overrated. He has been lucky that he has fought guys with names but they were old and on their way out. He has been protected in these fights, as all went the down the wire but went his way.”

Deleon’s career started in 2001 and he progressed up the boxing ranks the old fashion way; he fought his way to the top. Not blessed with hand speed or boxing aptitude, Deleon worked with what he had: his natural strength and freakish endurance made him a difficult night for any fighter. Four years into his boxing career, Deleon had already competed in 26 contests. In Mares’s case, he has been a pro for seven years now and only fought a total of 26 times.

When Mares first began his career in 2005, he and Deleon were stable mates under the guidance of trainer Clemente Medina. At that time, Deleon and Mares shared training regimes and the sparing ring often. From then to the present, Deleon does not see much improvement from Mares. Deleon said, “Well, what I see now is that he is a more aggressive fighter. He has become a very aggressive fighter over the past few years.” Deleon added, “I don’t know if he will actually fight like that with me because he knows better than to exchange punches with me. I think he is going to change his style against me because of my power.”

In past fights, Mares has been accused of being a dirty fighter by many of his prior opponents. In watching him fight, one can clearly see that Mares does not have any issue with bending the rules whenever he can. It is something that any pugilist going into the ring with him must be conscious of at all times. In Deleon’s case, he, too, is aware of this and ready to combat dirty tactics.

Deleon said, “It’s clear to see that he is a dirty fighter who hits low, head-butt opponents and land a lot of rabbit punches, too. I think he does this when he is in fights and runs out of things to do, so he gets frustrated but it’s clear that he is a dirty fighter. I’m definitely looking for a clean fight and my team will talk to the referee before the fight to make sure that he is keeping an eye on these dirty tactics. Having said that, I, too, know how to fight dirty and I’m not going to allow [Mares] to get away with dirty tactics. If the referee doesn’t put a stop to dirty tactics, then I will do what I have to do in the ring. I also know how to land low blows and rabbit punches.” Deleon clarified, “I am looking for a clean fight and hope he keeps it clean as there is no need to fight dirty.”

Regarding the actual fight plan for May 4th, Deleon feels that his experience and power will make the difference. He provided this about his approach: “We really have done nothing different for this fight. I’m going to be in great condition and will be ready. My plan is to attack, attack, and attack, landing punches with all of the power in my fists. I’m going to fight as hard as ever. I’m going to be tough and rude in that ring and I’m going forward. If he tries to run, I will stock him. My experience will allow me to adjust to anything he tries.”

In closing, Deleon had this message: “I am committed to all boxing fans, to give everyone a great fight come May 4. Anyone that is looking to see drama, action, and something good, then you will have to tune into this fight because that is what I’m going to deliver. Thank you to all that have always supported me and I promise you that I’m going to entertain everyone that night as I’m coming to give a great performance and win.”

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