By Jose M. Romero
For Fox Deportes
LAS VEGAS – Daniel Ponce de Leon was in pain. But his left hand might never have hurt so good.
Ponce de Leon was too much for Eduardo Lazcano in their WBC USNBC super featherweight title bout Saturday night at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, winning all 10 rounds according to the three judges for a unanimous decision victory over Lazcano.
So dominant with a full array of punches was Ponce de Leon – in front of a national TV audience on Fox Deportes – that his hand hurt from hitting Lazcano time after time. And Lazcano’s face was red from all the shots he took.
“I was hitting him so hard, I got hurt,” Ponce de Leon said. “I hit him so much. I’m happy. I went for the knockout in the first round and I couldn’t get it, so after the third round I just waited for the decision.”
Ponce de Leon credited to Lazcano for hanging in there for the full 10 rounds but said he was easy to hit.
Ponce de Leon’s promoter, Oscar de la Hoya of Golden Boy Promotions, sees big things ahead for the 31-year-old native of Mexico who fights out of the Los Angeles area. Ponce de Leon looked like was ready for the next step toward a major title at 129 pounds.
He hit Lazcano with his first good left hook in the first round. The second round saw him work in the jab and uppercut effectively. Lazcano’s best round was the sixth, but it wasn’t good enough to win him that round in the judges’ eyes.
Ponce de Leon threw significantly more punches and landed many of them. It was if Lazcano got in the way of his fists.
The Ponce de Leon-Lazcano fight was the main event of a night of hard knocks. Ishe Smith’s bout with Ayi Bruce, the co-main event at the junior middleweight class, was a smashing success in front of his hometown fans.
Smith, with losses in three of his past seven fights, went right after Bruce early and by the fourth round overwhelmed Bruce.
Smith set the tone early with some hard body shots, then unleashed five powerful right hooks that rocked Bruce. Smith also mixed in some jabs to the head, and the fight was stopped for a fourth-round technical knockout.
The crowd at the Hard Rock was clearly in Smith’s corner. He hadn’t fought in a year and a half before Friday.
“I can bang. I can do whatever needs to be done to get the victory,” Smith said. “I told people it was going to take a while, but everything is starting to come together now.”
Smith said he worked the body, then went to the jab and the balance in punches.
In undercard fights at the Hard Rock on the night before the big Mayweather-Cotto fight at the nearby MGM Grand, Daquan Arnett of Orlando, Fla., raised his pro record to 3-0 quickly with a first-round TKO over Jose Martell of Phoenix. Arnett’s body shots to Martell’s ribs forced him to take a knee for the first knockdown, then came a second, and before a third his corner asked for a stoppage.
Jeffrey Fontanez of Caguas, Puerto Rico, moved to 6-0 with a first-round TKO of fellow lightweight Rocco Espinoza. Fontanez scored three knockdowns in the round with vicious body blows to his opponent.
Female featherweight Jessica Rakoczy was victorious. Rakoczy, of Las Vegas, knocked down opponent Brittany Cruz in the third round, then threw a hard right hook to Cruz’s face that landed just before the bell to end the round. Cruz went down again in the fourth round, and moments later, the fight was stopped and Rakoczy scored a technical knockout.