MARCH 2ND: PONCE DE LEON HEADLINES AT NEW YORK'S APOLLO THEATER
Press Release: The next chapter of the Mexico vs. Puerto Rico boxing rivalry will play out in New York City on Saturday, March 2nd when Mexico's Daniel Ponce De Leon defends his WBC featherweight championship against Puerto Rico's Jayson Velez from the legendary Apollo Theater in New York City, with Showtime broadcasting. The co-feauture matches Richard Abril and Sharif "The Lion" Bogere for the vacant WBA lightweight belt. Opening the broadcast will be unbeaten featherweight phenom Gary Russell Jr. against Russia's Vyacheslav Gusevin a ten-round featherweight bout.
The night of fights marks the first time in over 15 years that the Apollo has played host to professional boxing with the last fight taking place in November 1997.
"This is a fight we've been waiting a long time for and my first defense is just around the corner," said Ponce De Leon. "I feel better prepared than when I won the title against Jhonny Gonzalez. I'm sure I'll win and will be world champion for a long time. I'm focused on the fight. I'm not bothered or uncomfortable fighting outside of my own backyard. To the contrary, it motivates me to fight better."
"I've been training really hard and am focused for this fight," said Velez. "Winning a belt has been the goal my whole life. Everything in camp is going as we planned and I can't wait to be in the ring on March 2."
Tickets, go on sale Saturday, February 9th at noon ET and will be available for purchase at the Apollo Theater box office, www.ticketmaster.com, all Ticketmaster locations or by calling 800-745-3000.
Considered by many to be comeback fighter of the year in 2012, former Junior Featherweight World Champion Daniel Ponce De Leon (44-4, 35 KOs) took the long road back to the top, but last year he reaped the fruits of his labor in spectacular fashion. Ponce De Leon had an excellent 2012 during which he knocked out Omar Estrella in January, decisioned Eduardo Lazcano in May and became a two-division titlidt on September 15th when he outpointed Jhonny Gonzalez for the WBC 126-pound title. March 2 will mark his first defense.
Hailing from Juncos, Puerto Rico, 24-year-old Jayson Velez (20-0, 15 KOs) put on a precision power-punching clinic last December when he stopped Salvador Sanchez II in the third round Madison Square Garden. On March 2, he'll be back in New York in an attempt to earn his first world title.
The 30-year old Abril (17-3-1, 8 KOs) was fairly unknown outside of hardcore fight circles heading into 2012, but when the Cuba-born resident of Miami, Florida took on highly-touted Brandon Rios in April of last year, that status changed over the span of 12 rounds. Though Abril lost a split decision to Rios that night, the boxing media and fans around the world voiced their displeasure, calling it an unjust decisions. On March 2nd, Abril rightfully gets another shot at the title, this time against Bogere.
Uganda native Sharif "The Lion" Bogere (23-0, 15 KO's) was a five-time African champion in his amateur days and now he's eager to add some professional gold to his trophy case on March 2. An aggressive contender with impressive power, the 24-year old (who now makes his home in Las Vegas) has impressed in his wins over top rising stars Ray Beltran, Francisco Contreras, Sergio Rivera and Manuel Leyva.
One of the most talented prospects in the sport today, 24-year-old southpaw Gary Russell Jr. (21-0, 13 KOs) has been showing his stellar boxing skills since his days as an amateur standout. In the fourth year of his professional career in 2012, he began adding power punching into his repertoire with knockouts of Christopher Perez and Roberto Castaneda.
Prokopyevsk, Russia's Vyacheslav Gusev (20-2, 5 KOs) is a nine-year pro. The 26-year-old is on a four-fight winning streak. In his most recent fight on April 30th, he rose from the canvas to decision Padjai Yongyuthgym.