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Elwin Soto faces Edward Heno in first defense of junior flyweight belt

Elwin Soto (right) crashed the junior flyweight rankings with a controversial 12th-round stoppage of Angel Acosta.

Elwin Soto will make the first defense of his WBO junior flyweight title against Edward Heno on Oct. 24, Golden Boy Promotions announced Friday afternoon.

The 12-round bout will take place at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, California. Angel Acosta, who lost the WBO title to Soto in his last bout, is scheduled to face a fighter to be determined in a 10-round bout.

Both fights will stream live on and on Facebook Watch via the Golden Boy Fight Night Page (10 p.m. ET/ 7 p.m. PT).

Soto (15-1, 10 knockouts), who resides in Mexicali, Mexico, was a little-known fringe contender who was a significant underdog going into his fight with Acosta on June 21. Soto rallied over the last couple of rounds before stunning Acosta early in round 12. Referee Thomas Taylor immediately stopped the bout, drawing criticism from those who thought the fight was stopped prematurely.

Edward Heno. Photo by Ryan Songalia

The 22-year-old has expressed a desire to unify or face the best at 108 pounds, but must fulfill his mandatory in Heno.

“This fight will be just like my last one,” said Soto, who is ranked No. 5 by The Ring. “I will train to the best of my abilities because I never underestimate anyone. I want to work hard to be the best in my division.”

Heno (14-0-5, 5 KOs) resides in Paranaque City in the Philippines. In his last bout on Feb. 11, Heno defeated Koji Itagaki by unanimous decision.

The 26-year-old’s most notable victory was a split-decision win over former world strawweight titleholder Merlito Sabillo on Feb. 17 of last year.

Heno believes he can pull off a signifiant upset win on Oct. 24, the same way Soto did when he defeated Acosta. Signing a promotional deal with an idol to the Filipino people also has allowed doors to open for Heno.

“I have worked my whole life for this opportunity to get a world title shot,” said Heno, who is ranked No. 8 by The Ring. “My life changed from the moment I started working with my manager Marty Elorde and signed with Senator Manny Pacquiao of MP Promotions, which is run by Sean Gibbons.

“And now I have a chance to fight world champion Elwin Soto. My life could not get any better. Mexico versus Philippines is the greatest rivalry in boxing. I look forward to Oct. 24 and hearing my name called as the new WBO champion of the world.”

Acosta (20-2, 20 KOs), who resides in San Juan, Puerto Rico, had won his previous four bouts prior to the loss to Soto.

Preliminary action

Junior welterweight Genaro Gamez (9-1, 6 KOs) of San Diego, who suffered his defeat as a pro at the hands of Luis Feliciano on Aug. 22, will square off against two-time world title challenger Diego Magdaleno (31-3, 13 KOs) in a 10-round bout. Magdaleno was brutally knocked out in round seven of his last bout on Feb. 2 by unbeaten lightweight contender Teofimo Lopez.

Fringe flyweight contender Ricardo Sandoval (16-1, 11 KOs) will square off against Chihuahua, Mexico’s Alonso Meléndez (15-3, 13 KOs) in a 10-round bout.

Junior welterweight Jonathan Navarro (16-0, 8 KOs) of East Los Angeles will face Nicaragua`s Levis Morales (17-5-1, 8 KOs) in an eight-round bout.

Raul Curiel (7-0, 5 KOs), a 2016 Mexican Olympian, will square off against Colorado Springs´ Jeremy Ramos (11-7, 4 KOs) in an eight-round junior middleweight bout.

Welterweight Aaron McKenna (8-0, 5 KOs) of Ireland and lightweight Nick Sullivan (1-0, 1 KO) of Norfolk, Virginia will fight in separate bouts.

Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring since October of 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper, Boxingscene, and He can be reached by email at FSalazarBoxing or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing