Q&A: Humberto Soto
“I understand because I used to be in that position dreaming of one day becoming a world champion. Now it’s my turn to be the fighter with the experience and maturity and I am prepared to take on a fighter like Gomez.”
The 34-year-old Los Mochis, Sinaloa native has been a prizefighter for more than half his life, turning pro in 1997, when Gomez was just five years old. During that time he has won an interim title at 126 pounds, stepping in at two weeks notice to shock the more favored Rocky Juarez a decade ago. He migrated to 130 pounds where he won a second WBC title before moving up to lightweight for his third crown.
Humberto Soto – We know that will be a tough fight, a difficult one. We’re working hard to get the win. I know Gomez is dangerous but I think that my experience and the fact that I also want to be a champion again will make the difference.
AW – Your fight will be chief support to Canelo Alvarez-James Kirkland. What are your thoughts on fighting on such a big card?
HS – Well it’s always good and it’s good that we have some sort of experience being on huge events. I’ve been [Manny Pacquiao’s] co-main event three times and some others’. I’m definitely more focused in winning the fight.
AW – Tell us about your camp.
HS – I’m at altitude in Temoaya, Mexico, near Centro Ceremonial Otomi. The altitude is almost 5,000 meters. The oxygen is excellent; my routine starts with a run on the morning, then I take a bath before breakfast. At 2:00 p.m., I go to the gym for a couple of hours, then back to the camp, bath, rest, eat, by the evening, sometimes, we watch some movies, play cards or just talk. Sometimes it can be tedious or monotonous but I know that’s the sacrifice that we all have to make to get big rewards.
AW – You have re-established yourself with seven consecutive wins over the past three years since losing to Lucas Matthysse. How have you been able to move onward with your career and put that damaging loss behind you?
HS – Yes, obviously it wasn’t good to lose. There was some personal issues happening when I fought Matthysse, issues that I don’t want to talk about. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t want this to sound like an excuse. Matthysse was better than me and he won without an excuse. After that, like you said, I’ve been doing my work to get back in the game, on my way to get another title.
AW – Two days after your fight, you turn 35. You have achieved a lot in the sport, winning world titles in three weight classes, 126, 130 and 135 pounds. What are your goals in boxing now?
HS – Definitely get the 140-pound belt.
AW – You were the underdog against John Molina Jr. in your last fight. You were able to win that fight, so do you feel that sent out a message that you’re still a top fighter?
HS – After the Matthysse fight, many people thought that I was done, that my career was over. Only my team and I knew what happened that night. Like you said, there’s seven [wins] in a row, many of them as the underdog, like this fight also. I’m not scared about it; that motivates me. I will definitely send a message, GBP [Golden Boy Promotions] represents both Gomez and myself. They look at Gomez like a rising star – and maybe he is – but on this night, I will not be the guy that he beats; I’ll surprise the world.
AW – If we go back, tell us about your early years growing up in Los Mochis. Were things tough for you and your family?
HS – I came from a working-class family, a humble one. And thank God for boxing. I can help my family to get a better life. There was a lot of sacrifice but it was worth it.
AW – You lost five fights on the way up, you learned your craft on the tough Mexican scene. Tell us about that.
HS – I like to challenge myself all the time. By that time, my only way to help my family was in boxing. I learned on the way up. I didn’t have a decent trainer or a company behind me. I learned the hard way but I never quit; I never gave up. One by one, I made my goals. I won three titles; the sacrifice brings rewards.
AW – You’re coming-out party was probably when you beat Rocky Juarez. That was an important fight for you and showed you could become champion?
HS – I was scheduled to fight at the Orleans hotel in Las Vegas, then my manager, Antonio Lozada saw that the WBC announced that Rocky Juarez was one of the challengers for the vacant [interim] title without an opponent yet, so he spoke with Mr. [Jose] Sulaiman to put our claim for that fight. By that time, I was ranked No. 5. The Juarez team took that fight. I think that they thought that we were not in a 100 percent condition.
AW – What are your thoughts on the junior welterweight division?
HS – Is a very competitive one, huge names. That’s our motivation to search for another title shot.
AW – Your nickname is “La Zorrita.” Why is that?
HS – My “Tata” (slang for “Grandpa”), Mr. Juan Angulo, rest in peace, took me to an amateur tournament. One kid didn’t show up. I begged my Tata to let me fight. “That kid will beat you,” he said, “He has many fights; you never have one before. You not even train for boxing.” I insisted and he gave me a lesson and let me fight. The kid beat me obviously but, before the fight, the announcer asked my grandpa how to introduce me. “Zorrita” he said.
Zorrita in Mexico is a slang for someone that is a little bit quiet, watching, like an animal waiting for his prey. It also a slang for “whore” (laughs). If you call a girl “Zorra,” you mean she’s a whore, seriously. My Tata told me that he call me Zorrita for the hunter thing [also meaning “little fox”] not for the whore one (laughs). I hope he didn’t lie to me!
AW – Tell us about your life away from boxing.
HS – Well, I’m like any other guy. I like to work. I own buses and cabs. Sometimes, I drive them and people are surprised when they see me on the wheel, working. I love to work. I think I’m a humble guy. I like to work and train. I’m married with three beautiful children. My favorite thing to do is spend time with my children, taking them to the beach.
AW – In closing, do you have a message for Gomez ahead of your fight?
HS – I’m not the guy that speaks to their opponent. I just wish him the best and the better one will be the winner.