Humberto Soto: The Man Manny Pacquiao Should Be Fighting?

By Jason Peck: Iím not going to write about the upcoming bout between Oscar De La Hoya and Manny Pacquiao. In the coming months, every writer with a pulse and a keyboard will give their own take on an issue thatís going to be heavily covered anyway. Whatís the point?

Humberto Soto Instead, Iím pretending that the aforementioned fight isnít happening, so I can retreat to a world where Manny gets a more natural challenge, the fans get a hell of a show, and the sport gets a meaningful bout. And to that end, the best man for the job is Humberto Soto. We could have Pacquiao-Marquez III any time. How about something different?

If this fight ever happens, expect peak performances from both Soto and Pacquiao; both would come armed with motivation aplenty. For Soto this is the ticket out of his perpetually-unappreciated career. For Manny, itís the chance to avenge the horrific beating that Soto inflicted on his brother Bobby.

Contrary to popular belief, this fight would be a risk for Pacquiao. Rarely have I seen a fighter as good as Soto be so consistently underestimated. His loss to Joan Guzman didnít help thing either, especially given the overall stain on the sport that Guzmanís behavior has turned him into lately.

Fighters of far lesser talent got the title shots with ease, but Soto rarely got much opportunity. In todayís profit-driven boxing business, heís a managerís nightmare Ė a classic case of high risk and low reward that probably ranks him among the more avoided fighters out there. A couple years back he decisively defeated Rocky Juarez in a title eliminator, but watched Juarez get the title shots instead.

Sure, Guzman beat him, but Pacquiao lacks the tools to defeat Soto in such a fashion. Guzman edged Soto out with his amazing foot speed, as well as his cautions defensive style. Manny lacks the tools for such an approach, and instead will have to take the fight to Soto. And with his size and granite chin, Soto is one of the few fighters who could return fire.

Sotoís large for his weight class, and his record can testify that he has punching power aplenty. That power also comes with some considerable boxing skills Ė unappreciated, of course Ė that make him a more multi-faceted pugilist that a first glance lets on.

Better yet, the winner will actually go on to be a force at any weight class within five pound of lightweight, leaving a lasting impact on several talent-rich divisions. Contrast this with many of the other super-fights, which had little or no bearing on the long-term health of the sport. The boxing media tells me that I should get excited about Calzaghe-Jones, but both will likely retire afterward, and the fight should have happened years ago anyway. The recent Hopkins-Pavlik fight was held outside of an established weight class, and left Pavlikís middleweight reign untouched. Hell, even Oscar de La Hoya is going to retire at the end of the Fight I Said Iíd Never Mention.

Obviously, Pacquiao wouldnít get much for taking on Soto as he will for Oscar. But Manny gets to avenge his brotherís savage beating, the Mexico-Philippines rivalry is re-ignited and the fans get a Fight of the Year candidate.

If all else fails, at least we know where to find Marquez.

Article posted on 25.10.2008

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