By Jake Donovan
Former two-division titlist Humberto “Zorrita” Soto scored a second round stoppage of fringe contender Jose Alfaro in his hometown of Los Mochis, Mexico on Saturday evening.
The bout was fought in the 140 lb division, where Soto now plans to campaign after having vacated his alphabet lightweight title earlier this year.
Other than a homecoming appearance, the matchup served as little more than a placeholder in the career of Soto, who continues to search for that long elusive big payday.
Alfaro is no stranger to stepping up in class, though always falling short whenever his shoulder is tapped for such an assignment. Among his eight conquerors are Erik Morales – who was just returning to the ring at the time after a break of more than 30 months – and former lightweight beltholder Antonio DeMarco, with neither bout particularly competitive.
His showing against Soto was more of the same, though it took a round or so for the mismatch to develop. Soto remained poised in the opening round, mixing boxing and stalking in his early attack while Alfaro just seemed happy to be involved in their Televisa-televised main event.
The drama and action picked up considerably in the second, beginning with a clash of heads that left Soto with a cut outside of his right eye. The sequence required a visit from the ringside physician but the cut was far enough from Soto’s eye to where it didn’t threaten to stop the contest.
Somebody forgot to tell Soto, who immediately came out firing as if he was on the verge of being stopped.
A series of head shots had Alfaro in serious trouble as he was rattled and turned around into the ropes. Soto was overzealous in his attack, landing on Alfaro while his back was turned. The sequence earned Soto a warning from the referee, primarily for hitting Alfaro in the back of the head.
Once Alfaro was ready to fight, Soto straightened his punches, all of which were of the legal variety. The most damaging blows came in his left and straight right, opening up cuts under the left eye and over the right eye of Alfaro, who began bleeding profusely.
The ringside physician was once again summoned to the ring apron for the second time in just one official minute of action, this time to look at the visiting challenger. The damage exhibited on Alfaro’s face was enough to convince the medical staff on hand to decide that the action didn’t need to extend any further, much to the dismay of the crowd and Alfaro himself.
The official time was 1:00 of the second round.
Soto improves to 56-7-2 (33KO) with the win, his 13th straight dating back to 2008. Alfaro falls to 25-8-2, losing for the fourth time in his last six fights.
The anti-climactic win aside, the result begs the question – what exactly is next in Soto’s career?
Despite having fought amongst a wealth of talent while campaigning at featherweight, super featherweight and lightweight over the past several years, Soto managed to miss big fights with all of the big names surrounding those divisions. The battle-tested Mexican was never included in the modern day Fab Four party featuring a series of fights between the likes of Manny Pacquiao, Juan Manuel Marquez, Marco Antonio Barrera and the aforementioned Morales.
Where the blame lies isn’t immediately clear, although recent actions by Soto suggest that the fighter is at least partially at fault.
The 31-year old engaged in a 12-round war with Urbano Antillon last December in what went down as one of the very best fights of 2010. Soto emerged victorious with a well-earned unanimous decision, though many clamored for a rematch.
Fans were scheduled to get their wish as a return go was slated as the chief support for Manny Pacquiao’s pay-per-view headliner against Shane Mosley this past May. However, the bout came at the expense of Soto somehow sidestepping an oft-failed attempt at a showdown with rising star Brandon Rios.
The intention of Top Rank late last year was to match up Soto and Rios in a bout that was to headline a Showtime telecast this past February. Those plans understandably fell apart when Soto revealed that the physical damage suffered in the fight with Antillon was too severe to return to the ring less than three months later.
All parties agreed, and Top Rank instead moved Rios towards a bout with alphabet titlist Miguel Acosta, while putting together Soto-Antillon II for its May pay-per-view event.
Soto managed to squash those plans as well, when he suddenly decided that he was no longer obligated to fight under the shared promotional banner of Top Rank and Zanfer Promotions. Declaring himself a free agent, Soto considered the contract for his rematch with Antillon to be null and void, and proceeded with an optional lightweight title defense against Motoki Sasaki in late June.
Shortly after the bout, Soto opted to vacate his belt and move up to the 140 lb. division, where he will most likely finish his career, if and when he opts to call it quits.
What’s not immediately clear is what are his plans at the weight. Speculation has circulated of his possibly eyeing a showdown with legendary countryman Erik Morales, who faces Lucas Matthysse in an alphabet title fight later this month. A win by Morales would make him the first ever Mexican to win a major title in four weight classes, even if this one would come under manufactured circumstances.
Regardless, it’s a kind of history that Soto would love to attempt to replicate, along with enjoying the type of payday that would come with such a fight.
The matchup is hardly out of the question. Soto’s last two fights have come on Mexican network giant Televisa, a network with whom Golden Boy Promotions – who now promotes Morales – enjoys a cozy relationship and supplies fights for as part of the network’s “Sabado de Corona” boxing series.
However, it remains pure speculation at the moment. As evidenced by his resume over the past several years, Soto remains one of the sport’s more active fighters, though every time out winning one fight that doesn’t necessarily lead to anything other than just another fight while in search of a long term plan that never quite seems to surface.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter at twitter.com/JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to JakeNDaBox@gmail.com.