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Elwin Soto braced for Katsunari Takayama challenge, targets rival titleholders at 108 pounds

07
May

Elwin Soto, the WBO junior flyweight titleholder, wants to be the best fighter at 108 pounds and prove that smaller fighters can seize the moment when competing on significant fight cards.

Soto, who is rated No. 5 by The Ring, will have his moment to shine Saturday night when he faces Katsunari Takayama at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The 12-round bout will precede the unification bout between Ring Magazine super middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez and WBO titleholder Billy Joe Saunders.

Both fights will stream live on DAZN (8 p.m. ET/ 5 p.m. PT).

This will be the third defense for Soto, who resides in Mexicali, Mexico. He won the title in June 2019, knocking out Angel Acosta in the 12th round of a fight he was losing on all three judges’ scorecards.

Soto (18-1, 12 knockouts) last fought on October 30, defeating Carlos Buitrago of Nicaragua by unanimous decision. The win over Buitrago also marked Soto’s final fight under contract with Golden Boy Promotions and he signed with Matchroom Boxing USA early last month.

Soto hopes to impress fight fans in attendance and make new ones as well.

“The truth is, I feel very excited,” Soto told The Ring early Thursday. “This is a great opportunity that has been given to me and we need to bring that championship back to Mexico. I’m going to be fighting in front of a lot of people and I have to do my best.

“I feel happy that the Mexican fans will be there to support me. For me, it’s an honor to fight in front of so many people. I feel very happy because this is such a big card. We are going to give a good fight and show that the smaller fighters can do it, too.”

Soto will face an opponent with a lot of experience in Takayama, who last fought on December 27, defeating Reiya Konishi by unanimous decision in his hometown of Osaka. The Japanese veteran is a former five-time world titleholder at strawweight and has mixed with some of the very bests, including Roman Gonzalez, Nkosinathi Joyi and Francisco Rodriguez. The 37-year-old last held a world title belt in 2015.

Soto understands the challenge Takayama presents but is confident that he will come out victorious.

“My team and I have analyzed him,” said Soto. “He’s a fighter with a lot of experience, but we have studied him. We are ready to face him and do our job.”

Should he prevail, Soto has his sights set on bigger fights later this year and in 2022. There was a possibility a unification bout with IBF titleholder Felix Alvarado, while he was still with Golden Boy, and other prospective opponents include WBC titleholder Kenshiro Teraji and WBA counterpart Hiroto Kyoguchi.

Soto believes a 108-pound tournament should take place to see who’s the best at 108 pounds.

“Right now, the 108-pound division has a lot of great fighters. Hopefully, in the future, we can prove who is the best, but everyone is very good. I think I will stay at this weight, 108 pounds, for some time. I feel strong at this weight and I’m going to try to win the titles.

“My family, my mom is very happy because I’ve always been a hard worker and when I got into sports, she knew I could do something big. That would be a unification [fight], I don’t know with who right now, but that’s my goal: To unify.”

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Francisco A. Salazar can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing

 

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