Heno confident of dethroning Soto

Joaquin Henson (The Philippine Star) - September 19, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — If there’s one thing that sets WBO No. 1 lightflyweight contender Edward Heno apart from other challengers about to fight in their first world title crack, it’s supreme confidence in himself.

Heno, 26, is set to face WBO 108-pound champion Elwin (La Pulga) Soto of Mexico in a scheduled 12-round bout at the Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, California, on Oct. 24. The venue is the same place where Soto wrested the WBO crown from Freddie Roach’s protégé Angel Acosta of Puerto Rico on a late stoppage last June. Soto was behind in the three judges’ scorecards when referee Thomas Taylor stopped it at 0:23 of the 12th round.

“Kaya ko si Soto,” Heno told his manager Marty Elorde. “Para sa akin na ‘to.” Heno has studied Soto’s style carefully in videos and is convinced he has what it takes to bring down the 22-year-old Mexican.

“In and out ang style ni Soto, may lakas at matibay,” said Elorde. According to Heno, Soto fights like David Diaz whom Manny Pacquiao knocked out in the ninth round to win the WBC lightweight title in Las Vegas in 2008. Another Soto fight-alike is former Philippine champion Jesse Espinas whom Heno decisioned in August last year.

Heno said he won’t let the chance of a lifetime to become a world champion slip away. “Matagal na akong handang lumaban ng world championship,” the brash, trash-talking challenger said. “Tiwala ako sa utak ko. Ang disiplina naggagaling sa sarili. Hindi ko ilulubog ang apat na anak ko, hindi ako magpapatalo.” Heno’s children are all boys from 7 to 6 to 4 to 2. They live in San Pedro, Laguna with their mother Joanne in a house owned by her sister while Heno stays in Parañaque where he trains at the Elorde Complex.

Elorde said Heno will apply for a US visa this week. “As soon as Edward gets his visa, he’ll go to the US,” he said. “I want him to adjust to the time difference right away. First time niya sa US. Ang plano namin is to engage (former WBC lightflyweight champion) Rodel Mayol as his trainer in L.A. Indio is about 100 miles from L. A.”

Elorde said he has also watched Soto’s videos. “He can pressure, he can box,” said Elorde. “Sabi ni Edward, he’ll win. He’s very confident. This is his chance. I’m grateful to Sen. Manny and Sean Gibbons for making this title shot happen.”

Heno is Soto’s mandatory challenger and said he’ll surprise the Mexican by switching styles. “Kung minsan boxer, kung minsan fighter,” he said. “Importante sa akin utak at puso. Isip at diskarte ang kailangan.” Heno said his style takes off from Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather, Jr., Prince Naseem Hamed and Nonito Donaire Jr.

Elorde said he has tapped nutritionist Jeaneth Aro to supervise Heno’s diet to keep him within the lightflyweight limit. “Nag-meeting na sina Edward at Jeaneth,” he said. “May programang ginawa si Jeaneth na sinusundan ni Edward. Vital yung nutrition program sa training. Dapat ma-maintain ni Edward yung timbang niya na hindi siya humihina.”

Aside from his WBO rating, Heno is ranked No. 4 by the WBA and No. 14 by the IBF. Curiously, the WBC appears to have overlooked Heno in its ratings even if he’s the reigning OPBF champion. The OPBF is affiliated with the WBC. Last February, Heno outpointed Japan’s Koji Itagaki to retain his OPBF crown for the third time in Hiroshima. His record is 14-0, with 5 KOs.

Soto has fought only twice outside of Mexico, both in the US, and his record is 15-1, with 11 KOs. Heno has fought thrice outside of the Philippines, winning twice and drawing once in Japan.

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