May 6, 2006 – Senayan Indoor Tennis Stadium, Jakarta, Indonesia

IBF minimumweight champion Muhammad “The Rockbreaker” Rachman, behind on all cards, landed a huge right hook to the chin of Omar Soto of Mexico, dropping the challenger for the ten-count to make the second defense of the title he won in September of 2004 from Daniel Reyes.

Before the bout, a brief dispute regarding the wrapping of Omar Soto’s hands caused some minor friction between the two camps as one Indonesian from Muhammad Rachman’s camp decided not to allow Soto’s manager, Antonio Losado, to wrap Soto’s knuckles with gauze. The rules state the knuckles may be wrapped with gauze but not tape, so once the IBF official came into Soto’s locker room, the controversy was quickly squelched. Rachman used no gauze around his knuckles however.

The fight had been cancelled three times in the past year and both fighters were eager to get on with the battle. The bout had gone to a purse bid which ended at $26,000; $19,500 for Rachman, $6,500 for Soto. Due to the repeated postponements though, promoter Muhammad Arsyad increased the purse of both fighters to $20,000.

Soto came out of the gate quickly, winging hard body shots and looping overhand rights. He clearly held the edge over Rachman in the speed department but the champion remained composed, countering with jabs and the occasional right hand of his own.

Round one – Soto

In the second round, Soto continued to jab and work the body. Rachman landed sporadically but his punches clearly affected Soto; each time a right hand landed it stopped Soto from furthering his attack and forced him to regroup. Near the end of the round Rachman unleashed a right hand missile, connecting to the chin of Soto and staggering the fighter known as Lobito. Rachman was unable to capitalize though and the end of the round saved Soto from further punishment.

Round two – Rachman

Soto recovered between rounds and came out aggressively, snapping his jab in the face of Rachman and following up with painful, drum beating body shots. Rachman remained unfazed however, smiling and waving Soto in. Soto picked up the pace, moving side-to-side and darting in and out with short, crisp combinations.

Round three – Soto

Lobito started round four where he left off, boxing smartly and dancing out of danger. Soto’s confidence increased with every flurry and he looked to be heading for an easy decision victory. Undaunted, Rachman pressed forward, still content to wait for the opportunity to land the one big bomb.

Round four – Soto

Rachman hired a new trainer only weeks before the fight and had been scrutinized for doing so by the Indonesian press. Many felt his better days were behind him. Most of his training takes place in the garage of his home and this, coupled with his advanced age (33) and his new trainer, figured to be too much for him to overcome.

Although Soto was outboxing Rachman and continued to do so in round five, each punch the “Rock Breaker” managed to connect with visibly pained the Mexican fighter.

Round five – Soto

In round six Soto continued to box as in the previous rounds. Rachman closed the distance and landed a sharp right, wobbling Soto. The two flurried and Rachman landed two right hands, one after the other. The second punch dropped Soto to all fours. He looked like he might beat the count but the look of pain on his face remained and he stayed down for the duration of the count. The end came at 1:56 of round six.

“I knew I would get to him eventually. He couldn’t hurt me with his punches so I knew it was only a matter of time before he got careless” said Rachman.

”Omar boxed a perfect fourth round,” said Losado. “He was dropping his left hand after he punched and this allowed Rachman to come over the top with the right hand.”

“I gave it my best and just got caught. This is boxing,” said Soto.

When asked who he’d like to face next, Rachman confidently stated, “I’ll fight anyone. Ivan Calderon – anyone, I’ll be ready for them!”

* * *

On the undercard; WBA #2 ranked Jr. flyweight Vicky Tahumil outclassed Samransak Singhamanasak of Thailand for three rounds before finally TKO’ing the Thai in round four of the scheduled ten-rounder. With the victory, Tahumil moves to 33-0-2 with 12 KO’s. Singmahanasak drops to 29-15-1, 24 KO’s. The two met once before, in May of last year, with Tahumil knocking out Singhamanasak in the first stanza. Tahumil hopes to land a title shot against WBA champion Roberto Vasquez.

Without breaking a sweat, superflyweight Hengky Wuwungan flattened Dechapol Bankluaygym of Thailand in round one of their scheduled ten-round contest. The hapless Thai didn’t throw a punch, much less land one, and went down for the count from the first flurry thrown by Wuwungan.

Flyweight: Angky Angkota KO2 Roland Latuny
Jr Flyweight: La Syukur TKO4 Hendrik Barongsay
Minimumweight: Marty Polii UD8 Herry Amol.

Promoter: Muhammad Arsyad
Attendance: Approximately 2500

De La Hoya vs. Mayorga

Ok, De La Hoya – Mayorga isn’t a fight involving an Asian fighter but nonetheless it was a big fight in Southeast Asia. I was in Indonesia covering the Rachman – Soto fight when the fight came on at 9 AM Indonesian time. Unfortunately, I rolled out of bed at 9:30 but didn’t really wake up until 10:30. By the time I realized the fight was on, it was over and I had missed the live telecast. Last night, back in Thailand, while channel surfing, I stumbled across a delayed broadcast of the fight so I settled in to see the bully get pounded into submission.

I’ll admit I’ve grown disillusioned with “The Golden Boy” in the last few years. I prefer a fighter to concentrate on fighting and only fighting, not promoting, singing, playing golf and other activity that might make them lose the killer instinct. De La Hoya demonstrated the difference between a wild, undisciplined fighter and a skilled, disciplined boxer and made it look like easy. He also illustrated the difference between a smack-talking bully and a guy who lets his fists do the talking in the ring. I admit, I was impressed – De La Hoya hasn’t fought in a year and a half yet looked like he’s been fighting every three months. So props to “The Golden Boy” for reminding me why I once enjoyed watching him fight.

My only question now is where does he go from here?