Antonio Orozco readies himself for Humberto Soto
Unbeaten Antonio Orozco is at the head of the class of junior welterweight prospects.
He has passed every test as a pro thus far, with little or no challenge.
To become a bona fide 140-pound contender, he needs to pass a major challenge in Humberto Soto, on Saturday at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. Soto, who has 75 pro fights under his belt, is that unit exam that could easily make Orozco look like he’ll need more time to perfect his craft.
Undaunted, Orozco feels he is up to the challenge as a convincing win over Soto could open more opportunities for the San Diego-based fighter.
The 10-round bout will precede the main event bout between Lucas Matthysse and Viktor Postol and will be televised live on HBO, beginning at 10:15 p.m ET/ 7:15 p.m. PT.
Orozco (22-0, 15 knockouts) has become a more seasoned fighter over the last couple of years, defeating fringe contenders or former titleholders. In his last bout on May 15, Orozco won a hard-fought 10-round unanimous decision over Emmanuel Taylor.
Orozco, who was born in Garden City, Kan., scored three wins in 2014 over Miguel Angel Huerta, Martin Honorio, and Steve Forbes.
Whereas Orozco may have utilized his size and strength to hurt and weaken his opponents, he has demonstrated he can outbox his foes as well, especially in his last three bouts.
Soto (65-8-2, 35 KOs) has fought a who’s who of world champions and contenders in a career that began over 18 years ago. Soto was scheduled to fight Frankie Gomez on May 9 but the bout was canceled at the pre-fight weigh-in when Gomez could not make the contracted weight.
Saturday’s fight may be Orozco’s opportunity to steal the spotlight and come away with a convincing victory against a fighter whom some say may be too much for “Relentless.”
“It’s a great opportunity and we have to capitalize,” Orozco told RingTV in a recent interview. “We have to show youth is coming and we can learn from experience. We have the utmost respect for Soto and his team but this is boxing. Paths are meant to be crossed and it’s our turn. We’re looking at this as any other fight but, obviously, there’s more [importance] on it than the previous fights.”
Orozco is a big junior welterweight. While he does not possess one-punch knockout power, Orozco could still change the momentum of a fight with his trademark left hook.
It is why some boxing scribes favor Orozco on Saturday night, as his power and strength could wear down the two-division titlist Soto. But Orozco downplays that, believing there are multiple facets of his game that could be more than enough to beat “La Zorrita.”
“It’s not going to be necessarily my youth or my strength,” said Orozco, who is promoted by Golden Boy Promotions and managed by Frank Espinoza. “You have to keep in consideration he’s experienced and is a veteran. I don’t think there’s going to be anything on the table that we’re going to bring that he hasn’t seen.
“But just as he’s going to be crafty, we have to make sure we’re crafty ourselves. We have to have an answer for everything that he responds to or what he throws at us. So we’ve been very focused in camp. Our mentality and focus has to grow with every fight. Boxing becomes more difficult and we have to grow with the fight and to the magnitude of the fight. Staying focused is the main priority of this fight.”
At 27 years of age, Orozco still may not have reached his ceiling as a fighter. It could be easy to get distracted with bigger purses and brighter lights but Orozco stays as motivated now as when he arrived to San Diego from Kansas years back.
“My wife [Claudia]. She keeps everything real. She’s a great impact in my camp. My wife is very encouraging and she makes sure everything is done right. Having that exposure and everything, things could get out of line. My wife is the reason. She’s the one.”
The stars seemed aligned for Orozco to make noise in a very talented division. First things first, he has to get by Soto. It may not be easy but Orozco believes he has all the intangibles to defeat someone that talented and experienced.
While acing a test in Soto remains to be seen, Orozco is confident and ready for whatever challenge he may bring.
“We have momentum. This is going to be a great fight. I’m really looking forward to it. Like I said, I respect him but our paths have crossed. That’s how boxing is.”
Francisco A. Salazar has written for RingTV since Oct. of 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (CA) Star newspaper, Boxingscene.com, and Knockout Nation. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing