Heno relishes underdog label vs Soto

Joaquin Henson (The Philippine Star) - October 9, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – Bookmakers are giving Filipino challenger Edward Heno only a 15 percent chance to dethrone WBO lightflyweight champion Elwin Soto of Mexico but the OPBF titlist isn’t fazed by the odds and according to his manager Marty Elorde, enjoys being the underdog in their scheduled 12-round fight at the Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, California, on Oct. 24.

Heno, 26, and trainer Roel Durano left Manila for Los Angeles last Sunday. They motored to Las Vegas yesterday to join other Filipino fighters Jhack Tepora, Johnriel Casimero and Romero Duno in camp under Los Angeles-based trainer Rodel Mayol. Heno’s other trainer Erbing Peñalosa will be in MMA fighter Brandon Vera’s corner in a ONE lightheavyweight title fight against Myanmar’s Aung La N Sang in Tokyo this Sunday and will head to Las Vegas with Elorde next week.

“Edward knows what the odds are but he doesn’t care,” said Elorde. “He likes it that way. Dehado siya kaya walang pressure. Edward finds it better to fight if he’s the underdog. But that only means he has to raise his level of fighting because Soto’s making his first defense and he badly wants to retain the title. Palaban si Soto. It’s not an easy fight. I just hope Edward’s in top condition.”

Before leaving, Heno had already brought up his sparring to 12 rounds. “I don’t think weight will be a problem,” said Elorde. “He was between 118-120 pounds in Manila. There’s enough time to bring down his weight to 108. It was a good decision to fly him to the US early so he can acclimatize. The other day, he texted me that he’s still adjusting to the time difference and having trouble sleeping. He’ll get over it in a few days.”

Elorde said nutritionist Jeaneth Aro submitted a diet plan for Heno to follow, similar to what she does in preparing IBF superflyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas for his fights. However, Heno hasn’t stuck to the program. “Edward has a mind of his own,” said Elorde. “He adjusted Jeaneth’s plan because he doesn’t like eating the same food for lunch and dinner. It was the same with our conditioning coach. Edward reworked his conditioning drills which he told me, are harder than what the coach wants him to do.”

Elorde said he doesn’t mind Heno’s attitude as long as it translates into a winning performance. “Edward’s confidence level is like Sen. Manny Pacquiao’s,” he said. “He hasn’t fought since February and the long layoff could be a factor working against him. Soto’s last fight was in May. But Edward’s not worried. He believes this is his time and he’ll come home a world champion.”

Elorde said Filipino dentist Dr. Ed de la Vega, who practices in San Fernando Valley near Los Angeles, will be in Heno’s corner as cutman. “Doc Ed’s our lucky charm,” he said. “He was in Donnie Nietes’ corner for 11 fights and Nietes never lost. Doc Ed made a mouthpiece for Edward. I met Doc Ed and his good friend Jhay Otamias, a well-known sports photographer, in L. A. and they’re both very helpful.”

Elorde said no matter the outcome, he’s happy that Heno will get a chance to fight for the world crown. “So many good fighters never even get the opportunity,” he said. “I’m thankful to Sen. Manny and Sean Gibbons for making this possible. They’re giving a lot of Filipino fighters the breaks to fight in title eliminators and championship fights. I hope Edward can repay Sen. Manny and Sean by beating Soto.”


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