Just this weekend, a Mexican showdown was announced when former three-divisional champion Humberto “Zorrita” Soto (65-8-2, 35KO) will face fellow Los Mochis, Mexico, native Ray “Sugar” Beltran (30-7-1, 18KO) on Saturday, June 27th, at the Stub Hub Center in Carson, CA. The twelve-round fight will be the support bout for the Timothy Bradley vs Jessie Vargas welterweight fight for the vacant WBO title. The Soto vs Beltran contest will be for the vacant WBA super lightweight title. The night will be broadcast live by HBO. The fight is presented by Top Rank in association with Golden Boy Promotions. As a bonus, the telecast might also include a fight between Juan Francisco Estrada and Brian Viloria or Hernan “Tyson” Marquez en route to a fight against Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez later this year.
It looks like both men are getting their second chance. First, Soto was all set to face young untested Frankie Gomez in a classic young lion against wily veteran set up last May 8th in Houston as the semi-main event of the “Canelo” Alvarez bludgeoning of James Kirkland. As luck would have it, and bad luck at that for Soto who has fought on a major network since his disappointing loss to Joan Guzman, the troubled Gomez came in way overweight for their 141-pound contracted weight. Needless to say, their fight was scratched from the night and the eight weeks of preparation the thirty-five year old Soto spent in the mountains of central Mexico went to waste.
Beltran’s story of his last fight is a bit different. After not making weight for his most recent title shot against Japanese Takahiro Ao, the WBO lightweight remained vacant when Beltran, 33, displayed all the hunger he lacked against Terence Crawford and stopped Ao in two rounds with a brutal knockout on the eve of Mayweather Jr vs Pacquiao in Las Vegas.
Now they will face each other.
This is a truly a crossroads fights and on paper quite possible the most even matched fight so far of 2015. Both a bit long of the tooth, Soto is older and has waged war in more rounds, a whopping 552 to Beltran’s 209. A featherweight at the onset of his career, Soto might be giving up some size at 140 pounds despite campaigning at the weight for quite some time. Surprisingly, Beltran also began his career at the 126 pound limit but quickly shot up to super featherweight and then settled at lightweight. Beltran seems like the bigger guy and the fighter who imposes his size in his style. To counteract that, Soto is more of the natural boxer although he is known to bang it out but if we are to go by his last fight, against brawler John Molina Jr, we should expect for Soto to try to give Beltran a boxing lesson.
With both fighters on the wrong side of thirty, the winner here should expect a couple more showing on HBO until he relinquishes the belt, either willingly or unwillingly but the loser might keep fighting but will be relegated as purely a gatekeeper for the likes of Frankie Gomez and others up and coming younger fighters.