Saturday, April 01, 2023  |


For Jesus Soto Karass, question of retirement looms going into Abreu fight

Fighters Network

TUCSON, Ariz. –World-title belts are everywhere these days. Fighters, corner men, bucket guys and camp followers carry them into the ring above their heads and across their shoulders. But Jesus Soto Karass doesn’t have one. Never has had one. Doesn’t need one, either.

Turns out, his name has been enough.

“I’m fine with that,’’ said Soto Karass, who is near the end of a long career with more name recognition than the countless fighters who have countless belts, yet only anonymity.

For more than 16 years, Soto Karass has identified himself as somebody who just likes to fight. He has never needed a title to prove his willingness. It was there in losses to Marcos Maidana, Keith Thurman and Yoshihiro Kamegai. It was there in a career-defining upset of Andre Berto. All he has ever needed is an opponent and an opening bell. If that makes him a journeyman, so be it. From bumps to bruises, he has loved the journey.

Soto Karass (28-12-4, 18 knockouts) has both opponent and opening bell for at least one more stop, this time against Juan Carlos Abreu (19-3-1, 18 KOs) Thursday (ESPN 2, ESPN Deportes, 11 p.m. ET/8 p.m. PT) in a welterweight bout on a Golden Boy Promotions card at Casino Del Sol.

Soto Karass vs. Berto

“This might be his last,’’ said co-manager Sergio Diaz, also of Showdown Promotions. “It depends on how he looks. It depends on whether something comes up that is good enough for him to continue after this. But he’s thinking about retiring.’’

Soto Karass is not so sure. At least, he wasn’t about 24 hours before the 44th fight in his pro career.

“I don’t know, I just don’t know,’’ said Soto Karass, who was 146.6 pounds at the weigh-in Wednesday (Abreu, of the Domincan Republic, weighed in at 147.2).

His recent record is dotted with reasons to walk away. He’s 4-5-1 over his last 10, including a tough loss in August to Mauricio Herrera by majority decision in Indio, California.

Whatever he does in the days after facing the dangerous Abreu, it’s clear Soto Karass has already begun to say goodbye to the Spartan regimen of training, making weight and taking punches. He’s a 35-year-old father of four kids. He sees a y0unger generation of fighters and welcomes them. He introduced one of those new faces while standing on the stage after stepping off the scale Wednesday.

“There’s the future,’’ Soto Karass said as he pointed at 19-year-old prospect Ryan Garcia (11-0, 10 KOs), a junior lightweight from Victorville, California, who faces Cesar Valenzuela (14-5-1, 5 KOs) of Phoenix on the televised part of Thursday’s card.

For Soto Karass, there’s the past — a record that doesn’t include a shot at a major title.

The closest he came was a fight he earned with his stunner of Berto in July 2013 in San Antonio — a bout that co-manager Francisco Espinoza remembers as if it happened just yesterday. Ask Espinoza for his favorite bout, and he pulls out his phone and proudly displays a photo of the fight poster. Enough said.

After Berto, Soto Karass went on to face the emerging Thurman in December 2013, also in San Antonio. Soto Karass staggered Thurman in the opening seconds, but could not elude him or his power for the next several rounds. Thurman won a ninth-round stoppage. He also won one of those “interim” titles with a victory over a fighter with a name, Soto Karass, which has endured because of how he fought instead of what he won.