Brandon Rios vs. Humberto Soto – 1 week to go

By Boxing News - 02/16/2019 - Comments

Image: Brandon Rios vs. Humberto Soto - 1 week to go

By Aragon Garcia: Brandon Rios (35-4-1, 26 KOs) will be back inside the ring next Saturday night in 1 week from now to take on former two division world champion Humberto Soto (68-9-2, 37 KOs) on February 23 in a 10 round fight on DAZN and Sky Sports at the Auditorio Municipal Fausto Gutiérrez Moreno, in Tijuana, Mexico.

Rios is going to have to bring his A-game with him next Saturday night if he doesn’t want to get schooled by the more experienced Soto. This isn’t Ramon Alvarez that Rios is fighting here. Soto is a well accomplished two-time world champion, who was one of the best in the world at 130 and 135. Soto is a former WBC super featherweight and WBC lightweight champion. He moved up in weight following Manny Pacquiao as he moved up from super featherweight to lightweight many years ago.

Soto had hoped to fight Pacquiao, but the Filipino star made it all but impossible when he quickly shot up to the welterweight division, and began to dominate in that weight class. Soto moved up to 140 in 2011, but he stuck at that weight until 2018 before he finally made the move to 147. Getting a shot at Pacquiao is unrealistic at this point for Soto. He hasn’t been beating the type of opposition that would put him on Pacquiao’s radar, even though he’s been mostly winning since 2012.

This is an important fight for the 32-year-old Rios, who is now signed with Matchroom Boxing USA promoter Eddie Hearn. Former WBA lightweight champion Rios wants to get a title shot against one of the welterweight world champions, but he’s got to get past Soto, and keep winning long enough to get a respectable ranking in the top 15 at 147. Rios defeated Saul Canelo Alvarez’s brother Ramon “Inocente” Alvarez (27-7-3, 16 KOs) by a ninth round knockout late last year on November 17 at the Kansas star arena, in Mulvane, Kansas. That was a good bounce back fight for Rios after losing his previous fight to former two division world champion Danny Garcia by a ninth round knockout last year in February.

In looking back at that fight, you have to give Rios a lot of credit for taking on such a difficult opponent in Garcia after having been out of the ring for eight months. Rios’ previous fight before that was against journeyman Aaron Herrera in June of 2017. Rios defeated Herrera by a seventh round knockout. But before that fight, Rios had been out of the ring for a year and half since since losing to Tim Bradley by a ninth round knockout in November 2015. In real terms, Rios took the fight with Danny Garcia after more than 2 years of inactivity against world class opposition. You can’t count Herrera as a true fight, because it was such a poor opponent. Rios shouldn’t have taken on Garcia with that kind of inactivity, but obviously he wasn’t going to turn down the big payday.

It’s assumed by many boxing fans that Rios will have too much size, youth and power for the soon to be 39-year-old Soto. That may not be reality. Soto is a seasoned pro with 576 rounds in the pro ranks under his belt, and he’s still fighting at a very high level. Soto doesn’t slack off in between fights like some of the fighters that have made millions. He stays in shape, and keeps fighting. Soto is coming into the fight with Rios with a 3-fight winning streak. His last defeat came against Antonio Orozco in losing a 10 round unanimous decision in October 2015. That was a controversial defeat, though. A lot of boxing fans thought Orozco got gift decision by the judges. At the end of the fight, it looked like Soto had won at least seven of the 10 rounds. However, Orozco was the unbeaten fighter that was considered the up and coming guys. Soto fought well enough to deserve the win. That was the important thing to focus on. He wasn’t beaten by the younger fighter.

Soto lost to Lucas Matthysse by a fifth round knockout in 2012. That was a fight where Matthysse had too much punching power for Soto at the time. That fight was before Soto had gotten comfortable in the 140 lb weight class. If the two fought each other right now, Soto would have a very good chance of winning the fight. Soto has beaten some very good fighters in the last five years. He has wins over the following guys: John Molina Jr., and Juan Carlos Abreu. If you add Orozco’s name to the win list, Soto has been unbeatable since his loss to Matthysse in 2012.

Rios is trying to rejuvenate his career, which has been moving at a quirky pace since 2013. Rios lost twice in 2013 in losing to Mike Alvarado and Manny Pacquiao. Rios came back from those losses to defeat Diego Chaves and Alvarado in 2014 and 2015. Things fell apart for Rios after that when he made the mistake of taking a fight against Tim Bradley while not in top condition. Rios made weight at 147 pounds for the fight, but then he rehydrate 23 lbs to 170 lbs on the night of the fight, and he was bloated and slow. Bradley realized what he had in front of him in facing the slow, sluggish and heavy Rios. Bradley targeted Rios’ midsection, and took him out with powerful body shots. Rios hadn’t trained hard enough to get in the kind of shape that he needed for him to have a fighting chance of beating Bradley in that fight.

Keys to victory for Brandon Rios

The key for Rios to try and beat Soto would be to impose his size and strength on him. Rios isn’t going to out-box a talented fighter like Soto. Rios would be someone that would be playing checkers against a chess champ if were to use that approach to try and beat him. Since Soto isn’t a true welterweight, Rios needs to try and impose his size on him to take him out with power shots the way that Lucas Matthysse did seven years ago. Matthysse was at the height of his career when he blasted out Soto. Rios doesn’t have that kind of punching power or talent that Matthysse had seven years ago when he fought Soto. It’s going to take more of a concerted effort on Rios’ part to try and score a knockout over Soto. Rios shouldn’t be under any illusions that he can beat Soto by boxing him for 12 rounds. The venue for the fight will be taking place in Tijuana, Mexico, and the fan are going to be cheering for Soto the entire time, knowing that he’s going to brawl the entire fight. Rios needs to know what he’s getting himself into, and focus on using his size and power to beat the older fighter. If it doesn’t work out for Rios, then it wasn’t meant to me. He didn’t have the talent to do the job. But at least if Rios goes after Soto, he can increase his chances of victory. The guys that have beaten Soto in the past have gone to war with him and out-brawled him. That’s what Rios needs to try to do.