Guzman – Soto: 2007’s Hidden Gem

14.11.07 - By Matthew Hurley: The officials assigned to the World Boxing Organization super featherweight title bout between Joan Guzman and Humberto Soto at the Borgata Hotel Casino Spa in Atlantic City on November 17th have been announced. The referee will be Harvey Dock and the judges at ringside will be Lynne Carter, Jean Williams and Don Trella. The bout will be broadcast on HBO’s Boxing After Dark with a replay of the Miguel Cotto – Shane Mosley fight to air beforehand..

The match up between two of the best super featherweights in the world has somewhat been lost in the shuffle of the recent avalanche of major marquee fights. Guzman, 27-0 with 17 KOs, from the Dominican Republic now fighting out of Brooklyn, New York, won the WBO super featherweight belt when he defeated Jorge Barrios by split decision in 2006.

He successfully defended the title against Antonio Davis later that year and now looks for a win over the streaking Soto, 42-5-2 with 26 KOs.

In recent bouts Guzman has been unable to live up to his nickname, “Little Tyson” which he earned as a junior featherweight. Since moving up to super featherweight his knockout percentage has flat lined. His lack of power however is compensated by a slick boxing technique. Guzman, however, dismisses the charges that he has been unable to maintain his once vaunted power as he’s moved up in weight.

“My power is still there,” he insists, “but I’ve always been one of the best boxers around. I’m one of the best punchers and boxers in the super featherweight and lightweight divisions.”

Guzman has been champing at the bit to get a big fight because he was clearly avoided at both junior featherweight and featherweight. He was scheduled on separate occasions to fight featherweight champion Scott Harrison but was the victim of multiple postponements. Frustrated that his number one ranking was doing him little justice he moved up and won the WBO super featherweight belt.

“The top guys at 122, Oscar Larios and Israel Vazquez, showed no interest in fighting me,” he says. “It was easier for me to make 126 anyway but the big fights are at super featherweight. I want the big fights, with guys like Pacquiao and Marquez.”

He must first get by the extremely tough Soto and it will be no easy task. Soto, who fights out of Tijuana, Mexico, has punching power and a sturdy chin. He too can lay claim that he has been avoided in the past. “Zorrito” is coming off a spectacular performance in June when he knocked out Bobby Pacquiao in the seventh round. He then called out Manny who was sitting at ringside. Soto brings a dangerous mix of pure power and Mexican machismo to the table. He readily concedes that Guzman is the better boxer and that his slick style may trouble him early but he believes that Joan is a bit of a front runner who can be broken down over the long haul. Because of Guzman’s speed Soto admits that he must be patient and not get overanxious should his opponent prove to be elusive prey. But he insists that his constant pressure will wear on the champion as the fight progresses.

Both fighters have already stated that they plan to move up in weight in the near future in hopes of securing a lucrative bout at lightweight but neither fighter is looking past the difficult task ahead of them on November 17th. It’s a fight that has been unjustly overshadowed in the past several weeks by Cotto – Mosley, Calzaghe – Kessler and the slow beating drum of what will soon turn into an all out publicity assault for Ricky Hatton and Floyd Mayweather. But this bout has the attention of true boxing fans and has all the intangibles to turn into a fight that could potentially become the hidden gem of 2007.

Article posted on 15.11.2007

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