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Humberto Soto-Crafty Little Fox


BoztheMadman
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With a nickname like "La Zorrita", meaning "crafty little fox", one can easily assume Humberto Soto was that anomaly for a Mexican fighter-a technician, a skilled or crafty boxer. Still, despite that, Soto was not one to shy away from a brawl and at 126 and 130 had pretty good punching power also. He won world titles at 130 and 135 and defeated some fine fighters, like Jesus Chavez, Brandon Rios, David Diaz, Oscar Leon, Rocky Juarez, Gamaliel Diaz and Urbano Antillon. 

Humberto Armando Soto Ochoa was born 11 May 1980 in Los Mochis, a tourist town on the northwest coast of Mexico. He turned pro at the age of 17, having little or no amateur experience. His early phase of career wasn't that successful as he went 14-4-2 in his first 20 fights. His first big fight happened on 13 July 2002, where he fought against Kevin Kelley for the vacant NABF super feather title in Vegas and lost by a close majority decision in 12 rounds. He then put together a streak of 13 wins with one no-contest, before fighting the 23-0 Texan Rocky Juarez, who was known as a hard hitter and a pressure fighter. That fight happened 20 August 2005 at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois. Despite getting two points deducted in the fight, Soto went on to win by UD by a razor-thin decision, 114-112 and 114-113 twice. He was fortunate to win the last round, for if he had lost it, then Juarez would be the winner by MD. 

With this win, he won the interim WBC feather title, which had been stripped from In-Jin Chi who was unable to defend it against Juarez due to an injury. He then made his first defence of this title at home in Los Mochis, against the clever Colombian Oscar Leon, 17 February 2006. I have already written about this fight, so I will be brief. Soto dropped Leon twice in round 9 before the referee waved it off, despite Leon's protests. Soto decided to return to 130 and in his next fight he beat Ivan Valle by TKO4 in an eliminator for the WBC title. He would have to wait a long time for that fight, however. He then knocked out Humberto Toledo in 3 and Bobby Pacquiao in 7, before fighting the ultra-slick Joan Guzman of Dominican Republic for his WBO title, 17 November 2007 in Atlantic City. Guzman's superior hand speed and counter-punching skills prevailed and Soto lost by 118-110 on one and 117-111 on two other scorecards. 

He finally got a fight for the interim WBC title at 130, against Francisco Lorenzo, another Dominican, which took place 28 June 2008 at Mandalay Bay. However, Soto was once again of bad luck against a Dominican, due to a bad refereeing call. Soto dropped Lorenzo twice in round 4 and it looked like it was over, but he had "clipped" him after he took the knee the second time. Lorenzo was unable to make the count and referee, after consulting with the other officials, chose to disqualify Soto, much to the chagrin of HBO commentator Jim Lampley. However, because of the controversy, WBC chose to not crown Lorenzo as its champion, but issued another fight with Soto this time fighting Gamaliel Diaz for the belt. This time, Soto was victorious as he put Diaz down in the first round and punished him until he quit after round 11. It was in Torreon, Mexico, on 11 October, that Humberto Soto finally became a world champion.

On 20 December, two months later, he faced Lorenzo again, this time for the full WBC title and won clearly on all scorecards after 12 rounds. He defended this belt 3 times, stopping Antonio Davis by TKO4, Benoit Gaudet by TKO9 and Aristides Perez by TKO2, before he vacated it to move up to 135. His first fight at that weight was against Jesus Chavez, former two-time world champion. It was on 19 December 2009 in Mexico and Soto won by a shutout on all scorecards after dropping Chavez in round 1 and Chavez also got two points deducted. He was now ready to challenge for the WBC title here as well, which he did against David Diaz, who had briefly held the WBC title before, until he was brutally dethroned by Manny Pacquiao in 2008. They fought in Diaz's hometown of Chicago, 13 March 2010 and Diaz was down in the first and last round and Soto won clearly on all scorecards. He was now a two-time (three if you count the interim title), two-weight champion. 

This time, he would make four successful defences, all on points. He beat Ricardo Dominguez first, then Fidel Monterroza Munoz, the tough brawler Urbano Antillon and finally the Japanese Motoki Sasaki. All the fights were in Mexico. He once again vacated the belt to move up to 140, in July 2011. With this he holds the distinction of being one of few fighters who never lost a world title they held. After winning 3 easier fights at 140, he faced one of the most dangerous fighters in the division, Lucas Martin Mathysse of Argentina, 23 June 2012 at Staples Center in L.A. It would be a very good year for Mathysse. They were of about equal height, but Mathysse was a clearly harder and heavier puncher here. In the first round, Soto boxed well and also started the second well, but at the end he was hit with a right hand while off balance which caused him to go down, but it was ruled a slip. The fight turned into a slugfest and both guys got their licks in, until round 5, when Mathysse sent Soto down for the first time in his career (for real) with a three-punch combo followed up by a right hand, in the final seconds of the round. As Soto was unable to recover in time, his corner stopped the fight after that round. 

Although he had been stopped before in 11 rounds against Hector Javier Marquez, that was in his early days, while this was in his prime. Many surely wrote him off after that, but Soto came back and first won the World Boxing Federation title by UD against Jose Lopez and then also the  WBC International title by UD against Silverio Ortiz, both in 2013. He also stopped Hiroshi Nakamori by TKO9 in a defence of both titles. On 13 September 2014, he faced the tall and hard-hitting John Molina jr and outboxed him enough to win by UD10. In his next fight however, he dropped an UD10 to Antonio Orozco, 22-0 at the time. Soto had been away from the ring for a year before that. His final moment of glory came when he faced Brandon Rios, who had earlier disparagingly called him a "pussy" in an interview. It was in Tijuana, Mexico, 23 February 2019 and Soto gave the 6-years younger Rios a boxing lesson, despite a tough fight, and won clearly on all scorecards after 10 rounds.

His final fight came only two months later, on 23 April, at the Forum in Inglewood. The opponent was the even-younger and 5'10 tall Jessie Vargas. Soto was obviously well past his best by then and was dominated, only getting one round out of five before getting dropped in round six and stopped on his feet by TKO. The 39-yearold Crafty Little Fox from Los Mochis finally retired, with a record of 69 wins and 37 ko's, 10 losses and 2 draws. 

Humberto Soto was a die hard fighter, despite his boxing skills and he actually had "cojones" as big as Brandon Rios and such guys, but he also used his boxing IQ, which is why he had such a long career, spanning 22 years! He was certainly among the 5 best fighters in his prime, at 130 and 135. He wasn't afraid of going toe to toe with the harder hitters and for that he reserves credit. 

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