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Monday, February 11, 2013
Jayson Velez injures ankle, fight off

By Dan Rafael
ESPN.com

Another week, another injury that forced postponement of a Golden Boy-promoted fight.

This time it is featherweight Jayson Velez, who is injured. He sprained his ankle on Monday, forcing him to pull out of a world title challenge against Daniel Ponce De Leon.

The fight -- which was only formally announced last week -- was scheduled to take place March 2 at the famed Apollo Theater in New York as the main event of a Showtime-televised tripleheader.

"Unfortunately, he injured his ankle," Gabriel Penagaricano, Velez's adviser, told ESPN.com. "He wasn't even training. He just twisted it. He stepped into something uneven and he has to be out four to six weeks.

"He was walking with his family, simply walking in the street with his family. He wasn't even running or doing any exercise. It is very sad for him because this was a great opportunity to fight in New York in front of his Puerto Rican people in the main event on Showtime. But it happens. He's out of the fight. It happened completely outside of his training regimen."

Golden Boy Promotions chief executive Richard Schaefer said the rest of the show would go on, although whether Ponce De Leon-Velez is postponed to a later date or Ponce De Leon fights a short-notice opponent is up in the air.

"Don't have any news yet (on Ponce De Leon). Only thing I know for now is that the other fights will go on," Schaefer said.

In the two other televised bouts, interim lightweight titleholder Richard Abril (17-3-1, 8 KOs), a Cuban living in Miami, is scheduled to face Las Vegas-based Uganda native Sharif Bogere (23-0, 15 KOs) for a vacant world title and 2011 ESPN.com prospect of the year Gary Russell Jr. (21-0, 13 KOs) of Washington, D.C., will meet Vyacheslav Gusev (20-2, 5 KOs) of Russia in a scheduled 10-round featherweight bout.

Frank Espinoza, Ponce De Leon's manager, told ESPN.com that Mexico's Ponce De Leon will continue training in Los Angeles in the hopes of a new opponent being found.

"He has put in so much time and effort into training, so hearing the news was a big disappointment on his part," Espinoza said. "Right now, we just got the news. We just found out that Velez has to pull out of the fight. So we don't even know what we're going to do next. We have to talk to Golden Boy and see what they have in mind about what's next.

"But I told Ponce just to stay focused, stay in shape. I told him to still prepare himself and stay in the gym and see what develops. We just got to see what comes up and see if Golden Boy has any ideas. Other than, there's not much to say."

Ponce De Leon (44-4, 35 KOs), a former junior featherweight titleholder, won a featherweight belt on Sept. 15 with an eight-round technical decision against countryman Jhonny Gonzalez, who was unable to continue after an accidental head butt opened a bad cut over his right eye. The fight with Velez (20-0, 15 KOs) was due to be Ponce De Leon's first defense.

Velez's injury is the latest in a rash of them in recent weeks that have forced major Golden Boy bouts to be postponed.

Last week, heavyweight Johnathon Banks (29-1-1, 19 KOs) broke his right thumb in sparring, forcing postponement of his rematch against Seth Mitchell (25-1-1, 19 KOs), which was supposed to take place Saturday night in Atlantic City, N.J., on an HBO-televised undercard. That show will still go on with lightweight titlist Adrien Broner (25-0, 21 KOs) defending his title against former junior welterweight titlist Gavin Rees (37-1-1, 18 KOs).

A few days before Banks-Mitchell II was postponed, welterweight titlist Devon Alexander (24-1, 13 KOs) suffered a severely strained right biceps, forcing him to delay his mandatory defense against Kell Brook (29-0, 19 KOs) of England. They were supposed to headline a Showtime card in Detroit on Feb. 23. And in late January, unified junior welterweight titlist Danny Garcia (25-0, 16 KOs) suffered a rib injury, forcing him to postpone a title defense against former titleholder Zab Judah (42-7, 29 KOs). The fight was supposed to take place this past Saturday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., but the entire Showtime card was postponed until April 27.