LAS VEGAS - MAY 01: Daniel Ponce De Leon of Mexico reacts after defeating Cornelius Lock by unanimous decision during the featherweight fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 1, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Mexican featherweight contender Daniel Ponce De Leon has his next fight set, as the veteran slugger will return on May 4 at the Hard Rock in Las Vegas, headlining a show to be televised by FOX Sports, as well as FOX Deportes.
Ponce De Leon will be facing Eduardo Lazcano, perhaps better known as Chucky Lazcano, in a 12-round fight with a minor WBC title at stake. Ponce De Leon (42-4, 35 KO) has fought once this year, stopping Omar Estrella in six rounds in January, which turned out to be a tougher fight than expected, as Ponce De Leon was floored in the second round. Prior to that, he lost a wide and fairly dull technical decision to Yuriorkis Gamboa last September, which was preceded by his controversial points loss to Adrien Broner.
The 31-year-old veteran was thought to be headed for the Mayweather vs Cotto PPV undercard, but the fourth fight slot went instead to junior middleweights Deandre Latimore and Carlos Quintana. Instead, he'll serve as the main eventer for what amounts to a Vegas lead-in the night before the big show.
Lazcano (24-2, 11 KO) was recently scheduled to face Diego Magdaleno on the March 23 edition of ShoBox, but that fell apart and Magdaleno instead defeated Fernando Beltran.
His record is a little fluffy, as the 26-year-old southpaw does have a few halfway decent wins, but his current three-fight winning streak is a lot more questionable. He won a split decision over Alejandro Barrera in February 2011, a fight after Barrera had been knocked out by Rey Bautista. Since losing to Lazcano, Barrera has lost five more times, all by knockout.
Lazcano defeated an 0-3 fighter last July, and then in October won a 10-round majority decision over a fighter who came in with a 6-7 record. More likely than not, this is a fight aimed to get Ponce De Leon a win and keep him fresh and ready for a bigger fight should one arise.
Also returning on the card will be junior middleweight Ishe Smith, a savvy veteran who has flirted with contender level over the years but ultimately wound up forced into the role of opponent, where he often became far more of a pain than the promoters who scheduled him to lose wanted him to be. Since leaving promoter Lou DiBella, Smith (22-5, 10 KO) has been searching for a fight, and this will be his first time in the ring since November 2010.
In his most recent outings, Ishe was still Ishe, a troublesome matchup for good young fighters. He gave both Daniel Jacobs and Fernando Guerrero stiff tests in 2009 and 2010, losing both bouts. In the Jacobs fight on the first Juan Diaz vs Paulie Malignaggi undercard, Smith found himself on the short end of what may as well have been a predetermined scorecard from judge David Sutherland, who inexplicably scored a 100-89 shutout for Jacobs, then a stud Golden Boy prospect. The other two scores were a far more reasonable 96-93 from Gale Van Hoy and Raul Caiz Sr. (The same crew later in the night unanimously scored the main event for Juan Diaz.)
Against Guerrero in Mississippi, Smith lost by scores of 97-91, 95-93, and 96-93, scoring a knockdown in the fight but also losing a point. Over his career he's been a tough test for many, and has taken the "0s" from Pawel Wolak and David Estrada.
On May 4, Smith will be facing Philadelphia's Derek Ennis (23-3-1, 13 KO), who has plateaued as a solid local fighter in one of boxing's great cities. Ennis was supposed to face Demetrius Andrade on February 10 in a Friday Night Fights main event, but he pulled out of that one and left promoters scrambling before they came up with reportedly walking wounded Angel Hernandez in a shameful main event that shouldn't have happened.
Ennis, 31, is a solid comeback opponent for the 33-year-old Smith. He's not a big puncher or a fighter with much upside, but definitely knows his way around the ring and isn't a gimme if Smith is rusty.