Saturday, June 03, 2023  |



Junior middleweight prospect John Vera steps up in class against Michel Soro

John Vera (left) vs. Joey Ruelas. Photo credit: Manny Murillo/RJJ Boxing Promotions
Fighters Network

John Vera has been in France since the March 12, acclimating to the weather, the time difference, all the subtleties and nuances that look and feel different from Texas, and the gyms and small arenas and medium stages he’s toiled on so far to get to 18-0.

On Saturday, Vera is stepping up in class and stakes when he gloves up against Michel Soro, in France, with the WBA interim 154-pound crown up for grabs.

Vera is promoted by Roy Jones Jr., and Keith Veltre runs that outfit day to day. Veltre sopke to THE RING about Vera’s chances, and what he’s tried to do to give his guy the best chance of winning possible.

“He’s a patient fighter, Soro is tough, we know that,” Veltre told me. “John knows when to throw, and when not to. We are giving him every avenue possible to win, now it’s up to him. We got him when he was 12-0 he’s now 18-0. We think he’s ready, and while we can’t take Soro for granted, we think there are weaknesses there.”

Vera will be aided by the ample time he’s in that region. Veltre isn’t skimping to save a few nickles in the grand scheme of things; no, he wants Vera to feel like a Frenchman, an honorary one, with two weeks in that locale.

Another little but maybe large thing: Veltre has lobbied and succeeded in making sure the judges AND the ref will not be from France.

He recalled to me that his company has crossed this bridge before, but didn’t yank up the ladder when they crossed. Their guy Eric Hunter fought in England in 2016, Veltre said, and while RJP made sure no Brits were judging, a Brit reffed. And Veltre says that guy seemed to be kind to Welshman Lee Selby when he got knocked down. “I’m not saying judges are bad or corrupt,” Veltre continued. “But I want our fighter to know we are behind him.

“It’s not going to be easy, we see it as a 50-50 chance, Vera knows he has to perform, he has to be a little sharper than the other guy, know when to get out.”

The 20 by 20 ring Veltre wanted and got should be helpful to the smart boxer Vera, who uses his feet to get advantageous angles.

If you haven’t seen the 29 year old nicknamed “The Phenom,” he is a heady athlete. His 11 KOs attest that he isn’t a bomber, but I’ve seen him live, he punches hard enough to bother you and get you out if you get snuck up on. The 31-2-1 (21 KOs) Soro had a step up chance in 2014 and made the most of it, basically, drawing with Antoine Douglas. He beat name Glen Tapia in 2015, and won his next four before hitting a speed bump in Brian Castano (vis split decision). The WBA interim 154 belt was up for grabs. He downed 20-2 Ivan Montero (KO3) in his last tango, in December.

Vera, he isn’t flatfooted, but he does set down, fire flatfooted, but then he slides, just enough to keep the range he likes. If he does back straight up, he generally does so quickly enough so he doesn’t pay for that, but Soro can explode on you a bit, so expect Vera to be extra mindful with his defense. Vera is a relaxed fighter, doesn’t get swept up in emotions, or tradefests. He uses the whole canvas of the foe, going low and high and will come from underneath, which Soro best be mindful of. Vera isn’t afraid to lead with the left, but that’ll work more against the types he downed to get here…but here, a Soro-quality fighter could be quicker with the counter to that than he’s seen before, possibly. Vera can lead and be the aggressor, or work off that back foot, slide and get angles to his liking as he retreats. I think Soro has faster hands and is better conditioned than anyone Vera has fought to this point. Yep, this is a step up fight for the Texan.

The Jones/Veltre team has been on an upswing, with a new deal on BeIn flourishing. French TV will pay a solid chunk for the rights to show Soro-Vera, and BeIn has a presence all over the place, around the map, so Veltre says he expects to snag more figters and working the overseas markets as their 3 year BeIn deal progresses.

For now, let’s see how Vera does in this overseas market. His promoter has handled things on his end; now Vera has to close the deal.


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