Monday, February 25, 2019

Thoughts On Rios-Soto

In previewing the Welterweight battle between longtime contender Brandon Rios and former two-division world champion Humberto Soto, this observer called it the very definition of a “Crossroads Fight.” Two fighters at the stage in their respective careers where both are attempting to rebuild and get back into contention for an opportunity at a world championship.

Readers may have noticed in that preview prior to the fight that yours truly did not spend much time analyzing what each fighter brought into the fight. This was because I felt overall that the story of the encounter was one that was straightforward in terms of the style of the two fighters. A fighter in Rios, who is known as someone who will come forward and attempt to both apply constant pressure and a high offensive output against a boxer/puncher in Soto, who could go toe to toe with his opposition if needed, but was more known for being a tactician in his approach.

When it comes to a straightforward stylistic fight such as this, it will often come down to who is able to dictate the tempo of the combat as I said in previewing this encounter. It did not take long when the two fighters met on February 23rd at the Municipal Auditorium in Tijuana, MX to find out who that fighter would be. Humberto Soto would make the story of this fight one that would be simple to describe.

For twelve rounds, Soto put on what could best be described as a Boxing lesson. Soto generally was able to get his punches off first and dictate how the fight was fought. What particularly impressed me about Soto’s performance was that he gave Rios angles and timed his offense consistently throughout the fight. This included throwing his punches in short spurts and often in combination. Despite being under consistent pressure by Rios throughput the fight, it was Soto’s timing that would offset that pressure and even at times catch Rios as he was coming forward while Soto was against the ropes.

What was also not touched upon by yours truly in previewing this fight was that this was also an encounter one might argue between two advanced-age fighters. Although some might not think of the age of thirty-two, the age of Brandon Rios, and the age of thirty-eight, the age of Humberto Soto as advanced it is important to remember that both fighters have been through their share of wars throughout their careers. Even in an era where several marquee fighters have been able to compete at the top level of the sport well into their forties, it is still an impressive feat to see a fighter do what Humberto Soto was able to do in this fight as the offense in spurts, effective angles, as well as being able to make the punches Rios threw less effective resulted in a convincing twelve round unanimous decision.

Despite having periodic moments throughout the fight, Rios could not find a way to turn the ebb and flow of the combat in his favor. One aspect of offense that I feel would have served Rios well would have been to attempt to attack Soto’s body more consistently throughout the fight. This theoretically would have had an effect on Soto’s movement as the fight progressed and perhaps would have made him more vulnerable to Rios’s pressure. By being unable to get his punches off first and unable to stop Soto’s offensive spurts, it did not lead to success in this fight for Brandon Rios.

While some might say that the fighter who did not emerge from this encounter with a victory might be heading for retirement I’m not sure. Despite the result of the fight being clear and convincing in favor of Soto, it was still a competitive bout that was entertaining to watch. Even though he came out of this fight on the losing end, Brandon Rios remains a fighter with an entertaining style, who no matter who he fights will provide excitement for Boxing fans. Although this fight was between two fighters on the comeback trail, it is also important to remember that one loss does not always indicate whether a fighter’s comeback was overall a success or failure.

This observer does not believe Brandon Rios is done necessarily as a fighter. I do believe however, that he should take some time to recoup from this fight and reevaluate what did not work in this fight and see if he can adapt in subsequent fights to come.

As for Humberto Soto, he will likely get another opportunity against a top contender in the talent deep Welterweight division. Whether or not Soto, who has previously held world championships in the 130lb. Jr. Lightweight and 135lb. Lightweight divisions will get an opportunity to become a three-division world champion in the 147lb. Welterweight division remains to be seen. If he can continue to win and more specifically win in impressive fashion as he was able to do in this fight against Brandon Rios, Humberto Soto may be the latest in a growing list of notable boxers to prove that for some fighting and competing at a top level at what is seen as an advanced-age can be done and be done successfully.

“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”

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