Everyone wants to fight Manny “The Golden Pinoy” Pacquiao. Like the “Golden Boy,” Oscar De La Hoya, a fight with Pacquiao usually means his opponent will be earning the biggest purse of his life.
Stepping in the ring with either of these cash cows is akin to winning the lottery for a boxer. Not only do they earn a huge paycheck, they also have the chance to build their name by either beating or putting on a credible effort against either of these boxing superstars.
Humberto “La Zorrita” Soto (43-5-2, 27 KO’s) and Joan Guzman (27-0, 17 KO’s) are arguably the two top super featherweights in the world and are set to face off, hoping to make a confrontation with Pacquiao a lucrative reality.
“An Assassin. That’s what they’ve been calling me after every fight,” said Humberto “La Zorrita” Soto from the Hotel Crown Plaza in New York just days before the fight. “El Asesino. I might have to change my nickname.”
Soto’s last trip to the East Coast landed him at Madison Square Garden in New York where he bludgeoned Manny’s lesser known and less talented brother, Bobby Pacquiao.
Soto systematically broke down the Filipino before stopping him in the seventh round.
“He was a very strong and determined fighter. It wasn’t a particularly difficult fight for me though,” said the always rugged Soto. “I’ve had much tougher fights.”
He’s got a more difficult assignment this time against WBO jr. lightweight champion Joan Guzman on the main event of HBO’s “Boxing After Dark” card this weekend. Guzman, who hails from the Dominican Republic, is an undefeated and highly respected boxer-puncher who is currently being trained by Floyd Mayweather Sr.
“I know of all his abilities. He’s one of the best in the world. He’s got tremendous speed and footwork. We’ve developed a plan for him,” said Soto. “I have to beat Guzman. He’s keeping me from the big time fights.”
Guzman was fighting as a super bantamweight and decimating his opponents with lighting speed and brutal punching power. Soto believes he hasn’t been as devastating in the super featherweight division.
“He was knocking out everyone,” Soto said. “As a super feather he’s not as powerful but I realize he’s still dangerous because of his boxing abilities.”
Although Soto has been briefed on Guzman, he admits he hasn’t watched any of his fights.
“My trainer watched his tapes. I don’t like to watch video because a lot of fighters tend to change their styles and I like to improvise inside the ring,” said Soto. “I know I change my style all the time so watching tape is useless to me.”
The early word is that Guzman is the slight betting favorite.
“It doesn’t bother me one bit. I was picked to lose against Rocky Juarez too,” said Soto. “I’ve beaten the odds before and I’ll do it again.”
The Los Mochis, Sinaloa native defeated the former Olympic Silver medalist, Juarez, and became the WBC “interim” champion. Ridiculously enough, Soto has remained an “interim” monarch since 2005. For those of you who don’t understand what being an “interim” titlist means, it’s like saying you’re “kind of” the champion but not really.
Exactly. Call it sanctioning body logic.
Soto finally gets a chance at a full fledged title as he tries to lift Guzman’s WBO crown.
“I ‘d be great to have a whole title instead of a piece of one,” said Soto. “Guzman is as tough as they come. He’s hungry like I am. He’s not going to give up his belt so easy.”
The 27-year-old intends to make the most of the biggest fight of his career.
“I plan to demonstrate why they call me The Assassin inside the ring on Saturday night,” Soto said. “I want to face guys like Pacquiao and Marquez. I have to win this fight to prove that I belong in the ring with them.”
He’s got one final message to all his fans.
“All the people that have supported me need to know that I’m not going to disappoint them,” assured Soto. “As always, I’m coming to fight like a warrior. I’ve shown it in the past and this fight won’t be the exception. I’m coming to execute my opponent.”
Spoken like a true assassin.
The twelve round main event is being promoted by Golden Boy Promotions, Sycuan Ringside and Top Rank. HBO will televise from The Borgata Casino and Spa in Atlantic City, New Jersey on Boxing After Dark at 9:45 PM ET/PT.