Mandatory title shot for Edward Heno
Edward Heno

Mandatory title shot for Edward Heno

Joaquin Henson (The Philippine Star) - July 11, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Another Filipino fighter is in line for a world title shot as Edward Heno has been confirmed as the mandatory challenger of WBO lightflyweight champion Elwin Soto of Mexico with negotiations now going on between MP Promotions head Sean Gibbons and Zanfer Promotions CEO Fernando Beltran to set the fight in the US.

Heno’s manager Marty Elorde said the other day he will contract nutritionist Jeaneth Aro, who works with IBF superflyweight beltholder Jerwin Ancajas, to supervise the OPBF 108-pound ruler’s weight program in preparation for the title crack. Last February, Elorde said Heno struggled to make the weight limit but managed to scale 107 1/2 pounds in outpointing Japanese Koti Itagaki in his third OPBF championship defense in Hiroshima.

“Hirap si Edward na makuha ang weight sa last fight,” said Elorde. “But tinyaga na. Sa laban, mga 116 na siya. Baka raw September or October ang laban kaya ngayon pa lang, dapat may weight program na si Edward. Maganda ang ginawa ni Jeaneth kay Jerwin kaya siya ang hahawak kay Edward sa nutrition niya.” Heno’s trainers are Roel Durano and Erbing Peñalosa whose brothers Dodie Boy and Gerry are former two-time world champions.

Elorde said Heno was penciled to fight in an MP card last month but the show was postponed. “Medyo depressed si Edward kasi na-postpone yung laban but confident kami na hindi kami pababayaan ni Sean. Napaganda pa nga kasi naayos ni Sean ang No. 1 ranking ni Edward tapos naging mandatory challenger.”

Heno, 26, captured the vacant OPBF crown via a seventh round stoppage of Japan’s Seita Ogido in Nakamagi in September 2017. Four months earlier, Heno and Ogido battled to a majority 12-round draw that kept the throne vacant. Since claiming the crown, Heno has repulsed three straight challengers – former world champion Merlito Sabillo, Jessie Espinas and Itagaki. He is unbeaten in three fights in Japan. Heno’s record is 14-0-5, with 5 KOs. His first three bouts were majority four-round draws.

Soto, 22, wrested the WBO title from Puerto Rico’s Angel Acosta at the Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, California, last June. He was behind on the three judges’ scorecards when Acosta was stopped at 0:23 of the 12th round. Soto’s only recourse to win the fight was to score a knockout as he was behind, 107-101, 106-102 and 105-103 entering the last round. The win raised Soto’s record to 15-1, with 11 KOs. His lone setback was to Danny Andujo on a unanimous four-round decision in Palm Springs in 2017.

It was WBO championship committee chairman Luis Batista Salas who announced Soto’s mandatory title defense against Heno, ordering negotiations up to July 22. If both parties are unable to agree, a purse bid will be conducted with a minimum of $80,000 to start. At $80,000, Soto’s share will be 65 percent of $52,000 and Heno’s cut will be 35 percent or $28,000.

Elorde said he’s not expecting the Philippines to host the fight but a neutral country like the US will be fair to both sides. “I’m grateful to Senator Manny (Pacquiao) and Sean for supporting Edward,” he said. “When Senator comes back from the US, Sean will arrange a meeting so I can thank him personally.”

Elorde was once Pacquiao’s registered manager for five years. “I brought in Japanese investors,” he said. “Manny was my second world champion after Rolando Bohol. Now, I’m hoping Edward will be my third. With my Japanese partners, we coordinated with Mang Rod (Nazario) when Manny won the IBF superbantamweight title in Las Vegas in 2001.” Elorde said he and Pacquiao will be sponsors in the October wedding of his nephew Nico, the PBA player whose father is Elorde’s brother Johnny so they’ll be kumpares.

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