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Soto ready to fend off the challengers

Story & photo by Felipe Leon

Now that WBC Super Featherweight Champion Humberto "Zorrita" Soto has reached the mountain top, he looks back down and the view is not pretty.

“I was one of one hundred that wanted to beat the champion—now there is one hundred that want to beat me,” says the champ.

Although challenges are hot on his heel, it is not likely that many will be able to defeat the 28-year-old. The next one up to bat is Canadian amateur standout Benoit Gaudet (20-1, 7 KOs) on the undercard of the Pacquiao-Hatton megafight on May 2nd from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas where Soto will defending his green strap for the second time.

Soto (47-7-2, 30 KOs) of Los Mochis, Mexico, is coming off the biggest profile fight of his career when he demolished the previously unstopped Antonio Davis in four rounds on the semi main event bout of "Latin Fury 8-Tijuana Thunder" at the Plaza de Toros Monumental in Tijuana.

In the fight, Soto took control of the action early, dropping his clearly overmatched opponent numerous times before finally stopping him with a storm of fists in front of the frenzied crowd of his home away from home, Tijuana.

“They say that the Monumental was vibrating that night, thank God that night it was me who shined,” says Soto. “I think I was the one that the fans gave the most support for, the biggest cheers. I am very happy that I was able to satisfy all those people that follow me and have always believed in me.”

The night was a special one for Soto and he prepared for it accordingly.

“We felt very strong. Our preparation was excellent and I believe I just had to follow the instructions of my corner and the fight would of ended at any moment that I wanted to.”

His new trainer Bobby Quirarte of the CREA gym in Tijuana, seconds the sentiment.

"We studied him on video and we got a good idea of how he worked,” says Quirarte. “We looked for a strategy to be able to fight him but especially knock him out. Humberto has hard punch and based on that we got the opportunity to knock him out."

Now, Humberto Soto must face Gaudet on the biggest stage of his career. The fact that "Zorrita" is not too familiar with his next opponent does not seem to unnerve him.

“We know that he is an Olympian fighter with a good record,” says Soto. “All the fighters come in very prepared but we prepare even better to keep satisfy the fans with another win.”

Although Soto might not know much of his next opponent, his trainer Quirarte does:

"We know he is a right hander and very good. We know that he was on the Canadian Olympic Committee and I vaguely remember him.

"He has fought from one of our other fighters Cesar Morales in the amateurs before the Sydney Olympics. We have seen videos of him and his style and we are in the process of coming out with something."

As Soto prepares himself diligently for his next assignment, believing that will be enough to have his hand raised at the end of the night, Quirarte knows that this bout might not be as easy as it looks on paper:

"A lot of times with fighters that are younger or have not been professional for a long time, they can be the most dangerous because we haven't seen much of them.  We might not know his style as well as other fighters that are well known. Besides that, he has a very good amateur career that makes him very dangerous. We are prepared to face him."

The fact that Soto defended his WBC title a little over a month before his next defense, is a reality that doesn't faze him or his trainer.

“Not at all,” says Quirarte. “Thank God my last was a tranquil one, I think my preparation helped me in that. We rested five days and we kept running like we have always done.

"He was out for three days from the gym and then he began to run and shadow box and the Monday after his last fight he was in the gym again."

After twelve years as a professional, Soto is finally receiving the accolades and more importantly the opportunities he feels he deserves. The Soto-Gaudet championship bout will be part of the first and quite possibly the biggest PPV event of the year as the #1 pound for pound fighter Manny Pacquiao takes on the ever popular Ricky Hatton.

“I know of the commitment that is in front of me and I am in for a tough fight but I know what I am made of me and I think that if I perform like I did in my last fight, bigger and better things will be in store for me and I am going to satisfy all those fans that pay a ticket to see the fight or see it on PPV.”

But the challenge is not only for Soto but for his entire team, including his young trainer.

"This is a challenge and very exciting. This fight card is very important which it will be seen around the ring and this is a challenge we must face to show our skills as trainers as well as our fighter's."

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