Heno set to defy odds
WBO lightflyweight champion Elwin Soto (left) and challenger Edward Heno at yesterday’s weigh-in in Indio, California with WBO supervisor Richard De Cuir.

Heno set to defy odds

Joaquin Henson (The Philippine Star) - October 25, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – It’s a chance of a lifetime for Edward Heno who makes his US debut in a scheduled 12-round bout against defending WBO lightflyweight champion Elwin Soto of Mexico at the Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, California, this morning (Manila time), and the tough-talking No. 1 mandatory challenger is determined to defy heavy odds that show only a 15 percent chance of scoring an upset.

Heno, 26, scaled 108 pounds on the dot and Soto, 22, tipped in at 107.6 at the weigh-in supervised by WBO official Richard De Cuir of Sacramento, California, in Indio yesterday. Heno’s manager Marty Elorde said the challenger’s ready to take the crown from Soto.  

“Very positive si Edward,” said Elorde. “All the good coaches helped out in his training in Las Vegas – coach Nonoy Neri, coach Sugar (Ting Ariosa), coach Rodel Mayol, coach Roel Durano and coach Erbing Penalosa. Lahat tumulong. Now, it’s Edward’s turn to win the title.”

Elorde said MP Promotions head Sean Gibbons arranged for Heno to train with other Filipino fighters, including Johnriel Casimero and Jhack Tepora, in Las Vegas. “With Sean, everything is taken care of,” he said. “I’m very happy and thankful to Sen. Manny (Pacquiao) and Sean for this opportunity. Edward wouldn’t have gotten this chance without their support.”

Heno and Durano left Manila for Los Angeles last Oct. 6 then motored to Las Vegas two days later to resume training. Last Tuesday, Gibbons drove over four hours from Las Vegas to bring Heno, Elorde and Durano to Indio.

Gibbons said he has feeling that an upset is in the making. But for Heno to win, he’s got to fight like there’s no tomorrow. Durano, his chief trainer, said Heno went only a little over 10 rounds with a Mexican amateur champion in light sparring in Las Vegas since he did most of his training in Manila. “Si Soto, parang (Marco Antonio) Barrera kung lumaban, susugod tapos aatras,” said Durano. “Malakas ang right hook, ‘yan ang babantayan namin. Hindi siya jabber. Malamang lalayuan ni Edward at siya ang mag-set ng tempo. Body puncher si Soto, style ng mga Mexican boxers. Tingin ko, kaya ni Edward ang suntok niya. Napag-aralan na namin siya sa YouTube. Handa na kami.”

The judges for the fight will be Max DeLuca of Tustin, California, Patrick Morley of Chicago and Zach Young of Los Angeles. DeLuca was the WBC’s Judge of the Year in 2010. Referee will be Jerry Cantu of Westminster, California.

Soto took the WBO crown from Puerto Rico’s Angel Acosta in the same Indio venue last June and was behind on the three judges’ scorecards when he scored a knockout at 0:23 of the 12th round. Heno is his first challenger. “This fight will be just like my last one,” said Soto. “I never underestimate anyone. I want to work hard to be the best in my division.”

Heno, who doesn’t mind being labeled an underdog, said he won’t waste the opportunity of fighting for a world title. “I’ve worked my whole life for this,” he said in Pilipino. “My life changed from the moment I started working with my manager (Elorde) and signed with Sen. Manny and Sir Sean. Now, I have a chance to fight Soto. Mexico vs the Philippines is the greatest rivalry in boxing. I look forward to hearing my name being called the new WBO champion of the world.”

Heno’s record is 14-0-5, with 5 KOs while Soto has compiled a 15-1 mark, with 11 KOs. “Tiwala ako sa utak ko,” said Heno. “Ang disiplina nanggagaling sa sarili. Hindi ko ilulubog ang apat na anak ko, hindi ako magpapatalo. Alam ko mahalaga ang trainer pero sa ibabaw ng ring, hindi ang trainer lumalaban kundi ang boxer. Isip at diskarte ang kailangan.” 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. Heno said he’s paying little by little to someday buy out the sister and own the house.

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