Elwin Soto looks to regain lost ground in his fight against Hekkie Budler
Former WBO junior flyweight titleholder Elwin Soto will face veteran two-weight world champion Hekkie Budler in an intriguing WBC eliminator at the Palenque Fex, Mexicali, Mexico on Saturday.
Soto, who is ranked No. 4 at 108-pounds, welcomes the opportunity to rebound at a high level having lost his title to Jonathan Gonzalez last October.
“The fight against Jonathan ‘La Bomba’ Gonzalez served me well,” Soto (19-2, 12 knockouts) told The Ring “I learned a lot and I have had time to return stronger and hungrier for victory [in this fight.]
“I think of Hekkie Budler is an experienced fighter and good fighter, just like me. When I face him, it will help me a lot to stay in the rankings. [It is a] WBC eliminator fight. If I win the fight, I would be high in the WBC rankings and thus look for a WBC title fight.
“I just know it will be a great fight and I will do my best to win that fight.”
It’s a far cry from a difficult start to life, where he lost his father, when he was 3-year-old and only had his mother to take care of him.
He was hyperactive child and liked to fight on the streets, so he went to the gym as an 8-year-old. Unusually for a Mexican he has an extensive amateur background, having fought in 230 contests.
“I was in the Mexican Olympic team,” he said the now 25-year-old. “I participated in the World Series of Boxing (WSB). I participated in a pre-Olympic [tournament] in Argentina to go to the 2016 Rio Olympic games. I could not achieve my dream [losing in the qualifying stages] and that was how I decided to debut at 19-years-old.
“And from there, I had another dream to be world champion and it was achieved, and this motivates me a lot to achieve the goals that I have to fulfil.”
Soto, who has trained at Andy Ruiz gym in San Diego, hopes victory will realign him and his goals and use this fight to serve as a springboard to facing one of the junior flyweight world champions.
“Beating Budler would be a great victory for me,” he said. “It would move me up the WBC rankings and close to fighting for the WBC title.
“Of course, I would like to face any 108-pound champion, I am ready for them.”
Budler turned professional in 2007. The South African wrenched the vacant WBA strawweight title from Karluis Diaz (KO 1) in 2014. “The Hexecutioner” made four defenses, notably outpointing former WBC 105-pound kingpin Chaozhong Xiong (UD 12) and countryman Simpiwe Konkco (UD 12). He was surprisingly beaten by Byron Rojas (UD 12).
The loss led to Budler moving up to junior flyweight. He lost to IBF beltholder Milan Melindo (SD 12) but pulled off a stunning win over Melindo conqueror Ryoichi Taguchi for the Ring, IBF and WBA titles. Budler lost to Kyoguchi (L TKO 10) in his first defense. The 34-year-old has won a comeback fight and sports a record of (33-4, 10 KOs).
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