Two Mexican boxing legends laced up their gloves for the final time on Saturday night as Hall of Famer Marco Antonio Barrera and former two-time world champion Daniel Ponce de Leon fought to the distance in an entertaining, six-round middleweight exhibition live on FITE and Golden Boy Fight Night on Facebook Watch Paid Online pay-per-view from the Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort & Casino in Mescalero, New Mexico.
Barrera (67-7, 44 KOs) returned to the ring for only the second time in more than a decade in Tapia Promotions’ “La Ultima Batalla” (The Last Stand), while his counterpart De Leon (45-7, 35 KOs) made his first squared circle appearance in more than seven years.
Both fighters rewound the clock and looked sharp in the special attraction filled with nostalgia for boxing fans around the world. Barrera, who battled many of the sport’s best fighters including fellow International Boxing Hall of Famers Erik Morales (three times), Johnny Tapia, and Juan Manuel Marquez, as well as the sweet science’s lone eight-division world champion Manny Pacquiao, displayed many of the skills that made him ESPN’s No. 43 greatest fighter of all time.
The southpaw-slugging Ponce De Leon showed off his familiar awkward style that made him a matchup nightmare throughout his career. After six rounds of crowd-pleasing action, both fighters escaped unscathed and left the ring with their legendary status intact.
In the co-featured pay-per-view bout, El Paso, Texas’ Abel Mendoza (31-0, 24 KOs) took one step closer toward a world title shot in the super featherweight division by stopping Mexican brawler and three-time world title challenger Victor Zaleta (20-6-1, 10 KOs) in the fourth round.
Mendoza’s gameplan to attack the body was evident from the onset as his relentless pressure and body blows quickly paid off with a left hook to the chin that buckled Zaleta. The undefeated Mendoza then forced his veteran opponent to take a knee in the closing seconds of the opening round after connecting with a punishing right hand to the body that took the air out of Zaleta.
“He (Zaleta) is known for being a tough guy,” Mendoza said following his 31st consecutive victory. “He has the experience. I knew the body shots would slow him down a lot. That is always my gameplan: try to break him down, stop him, and do whatever it takes to win the fight. We practice all different styles in the gym. We knew that we’d break him down with the body shots and slow him down. I started off a little slow, but we knew we’d break him down.”
Mendoza’s unrelenting pressure and forward movement paid dividends in the fourth round when he landed another vicious body shot that sent Zaleta down a second time. Referee David Rios stepped in to call a halt to the action at 2:23 of the round.
With the win over a legitimate former contender who challenged Leo Santa Cruz for his world title in 2012, Mendoza continues to knock on the door for a big-time fight on a big-time stage.
“We’re hoping to get the fight with Leo Santa Cruz. We’re ready for him,” Mendoza declared.
In other action, Albuquerque, N.M. native Xavier Madrid (3-0, 1 KO) scored the knockout of the night when he stopped professional debutante Daniel Arriaga in the initial stanza. Madrid connected with a short left hook flush on Arriaga’s chin, knocking him flat on his back and putting an end to the contest just a minute after the opening bell.
Madrid’s finishing sequence started with an overhand right that buzzed Arriaga, before connecting with the left hook that his counterpart never saw coming. The 29-year-old Madrid, who earned his first pro knockout, proved that he is one to watch in the welterweight division.
In a battle of two fighters making their pro boxing debuts, former Streetbeafs standout Jonathan Rice (1-0, 1 KO) scored a second-round TKO over Josh Holguin (0-1). After an exhausted Holguin punched himself out, turned his back on the action, and left himself open to the aggressive Rice, referee Rocky Burke stepped in at 1:20 of the second to put an end to the proceedings.
In an attraction of two fighters making their amateur debuts, Johnny “Nicco” Tapia, son of the legendary, late six-time world champion and Hall of Famer Johnny Tapia, came out victorious by earning a split decision over El Pasoan Brandon Lira.
The middleweight bout, which featured three two-minute rounds, could have gone either way. Lira started the fight on the front foot, coming out more aggressively than Albuquerque’s Tapia, bloodying his opponent’s nose. However, Tapia closed the bout by pressing the action. After hearing the judges’ decision, an excited Tapia celebrated in the ring with his mother/president of Tapia Promotions, Teresa Tapia.
In the initial pay-per-view bout, Albuquerque’s Clinton “Native Kid” Chavez (6-0, 4 KOs) cruised to a six-round unanimous decision over veteran Anthony Hill (1-31, 0 KOs).
The 31-year-old Chavez out-boxed Hill from start to finish, utilizing a vicious body attack on the overmatched Hill. Despite Chavez’s best efforts to score a knockout, a game Hill refused to go down. In the final round, Chavez pressed the action and nearly KO’d the 30-year-old veteran, who has only been stopped four times in 32 pro fights. All three judges scored the fight 60-54.
In preliminary action prior to the pay-per-view action, light heavyweight prospect Angel Chavez (6-0, 5 KOs) made quick work of Michael Sanchez (2-9, 2 KOs) by scoring a first-round knockout, while Luis Angel Ledesma (1-1-1, 1 KO) and John Herrera (5-18-3, 2 KOs) fought to a majority draw. Rounding out the opening bouts, undefeated featherweight prospect Avoran Graham (8-0, 5 KOs) kept his perfect record intact with a unanimous decision over 75-fight veteran Alejandro Moreno (24-48-3, 11 KOs).
The broadcast was called by former heavyweight and El Paso native David Rodriguez, and current pro welterweight and New Mexico native Josh “Pitbull” Torres.