The 5-foot-5 Ponce represented Mexico in the 2000 Olympic Games before turning pro in March 2001. He's a former WBC featherweight and WBO Junior Featherweight (six successful defenses) world champion. The current WBC No. 5-ranked contender at 130 pounds, he is 8-2 in world title fights.
A 13-year pro, the offensive-minded Ponce captured the WBC 126-pound world title in September 2012 and won the WBO 122-pound crown in October 2005.
Ponce is 4-3 in his last seven fights -- four against top-level opponents, including an impressive victory over current WBC Featherweight Champion Jhonny Gonzalez (TW 8) in September 2012. The losses came to ex-world champions Abner Mares, Yuriorkis Gamboa and to the naturally bigger Adrien Broner on a close 10-round decision. Other former world champs he's fought include Penalosa and Celestino Caballero.
In his last start and first at 130 pounds, Ponce won a lopsided 10-round decision over Joksan Hernandez on Nov. 16, 2013. Like JuanMa, Ponce expects the rematch to hardly resemble the first one.
"Fights are always different,'' he said. "It (their initial encounter) was my eighth defense. I was too overconfident heading into the fight and he caught me cold in the first round. But that fight is in the past. I had a different team, manager and trainer, then later on I made some changes.
"I was different then. I never thought in the ring. Before, I used to always jump on top of my opponents, but now I have transformed into a different fighter. For this fight, I feel good and am 100 percent ready.
"I see Lopez the same way everyone else sees him. He hasn't been the same. He has gone down and is a different fighter. I asked for the rematch a long time ago, and this is the perfect time to be fighting him. Now I look forward to going into the fight in top shape, very well-prepared. I want to win this fight.
"I have everything stacked against me fighting him in Puerto Rico. I don't want to leave it in the hands of the judges. The knockout is important -- it's a must."