Former two division world champion Daniel Ponce De Leon (44-5, 35 KO’s) wants to face unbeaten #2 WBO, #3 WBA, #5 WBC, #8 IBF, featherweight contender Gary Russell Jr. (22-0, 13 KO’s) next on September 7th, according to The Record. De Leon, 32, was reportedly offered the fight and he definitely wants the fight, but at 130 lbs. [super featherweight], not featherweight.
De Leon said to The Record “I was offered Gary Russell Jr., and I want that fight but at 130. I’m going to fight on September 7…I hope Russell takes the fight, I already accepted it. Golden Boy wants the fight.”
In theory, it shouldn’t make much difference for Russell Jr. to move up 4 pounds and take the fight at 130. If he’s not good enough to beat De Leon at 130, then he’s probably not going to be good enough to beat him at 126. If Russell Jr. says no then he’s probably going to be stuck facing more weak opposition like the ones that he built his impressive looking 22-fight resume on.
Russell Jr’s record is littered with weak opposition from top to bottom, and it’s difficult to really know how good he is because his handlers have been reluctant thus far to match him against anyone that would be a real test for him.
De Leon may have made a mistake in asking for the fight at 130, because that could be the excuse that Russell Jr. uses to say he can’t take the fight.
De Leon, #3 WBC, lost his WBC featherweight title in his last fight in getting stopped by Abner Mares in the 9th round last May. De Leon landed a lot of hard shots in the fight, but he was in the 2nd and 9th rounds by punches he didn’t see coming because he was too busy trying to land punches of his own.
Russell Jr. is coming off of a 10 round decision win over Vyacheslav Gusev last March. Russell Jr. hurt his left hand in the 3rd round; otherwise he might have got a stoppage win.