Former Three-Time World Champion Humberto “Zorrita” Soto will seek to join rare company among active fighters with 60 wins as he pursues his 60th professional victory when he faces the always-dangerous and hard-hitting Lucas Matthysse in a battle of world-ranked super lightweights in the co-featured fight on Showtime on Saturday, June 23 from STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, Calif.
Soto (59-7-2, 34 KO’s), of Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico, will battle Matthysse for the vacant WBC Continental Americas super lightweight title and look to extend his current 15-fight winning streak. He’ll also look to push himself higher in the world ratings where he is already rated number two by the World Boxing Council (WBC), number three by the World Boxing Association (WBA) and number seven by the World Boxing Organization (WBO).
Matthysse (30-2, 28 KO’s), whose concussive power led him to scored nine knockdowns in a fight against former World Champion DeMarcus Corley, has won his last two fights and will be making his fifth start in the United States on Saturday night. Matthysse’s only losses came via controversial split decisions to former World Champions Devon Alexander and Zab Judah in a pair of fights that many ringside observers felt Matthysse won. A native of Trelew, Argentina, Matthysse is rated number four in the world by the WBC, number six by the WBA and number eleven by the WBO.
If triumphant, Soto at 32 years old, will join a handful of active fighters with 60 or more wins, including James Toney, Jorge Arce, Jose Luis Castillo, Luis Ramon “Yori Boy” Campos and Pongsaklek Wonjongkam.
“Winning 60 fights would be great, but winning another world title is what I really want,” said Soto who turned professional at 17 years old in September of 1997. “I’ve always worked very hard in training trying to learn different things. I’ve always been very dedicated in the gym. Matthysse is a great fighter with a very respectful power punch. I’m going to fight a very intelligent fight. I’m going to follow my corner’s directions and go in there and outbox him and be the smarter fighter.”
A terrific counter-puncher with good overall skills and movement, the crowd-pleasing 5-foot-7 ½-inch Soto has fought excellent opposition throughout his career, including former World Champions David Diaz, Jesus Chavez, Joan Guzman, Jorge Solis and Kevin Kelley.
Soto captured the WBC super featherweight title in December 2008 and the WBC Lightweight World crown in March 2010. He made three successful defenses of the 130-pound belt and successfully retained the 135-pound crown on four occasions.
One of his most memorable title defenses came in a close, unanimous 12-round decision win over the brave and determined Urbano Antillon in a spectacular, fast-paced, give-and-take slugfest on Dec. 4, 2010 in Anaheim, Calif.
“I thought I won more clearly than the judges had it (115-112, 114-113 twice), but without a doubt it was the toughest fight of my career,” Soto said. “There were a lot of rough tactics from him (Antillon threw Soto to the canvas three times), but I expected that which is why I never became frustrated by it.”
Four of Soto’s defeats and both of his draws came during his first three years as a professional. Soto’s last loss came via a controversial fourth-round disqualification in June 2008. He is coming off of a unanimous 10-round decision over Claudinei Lacerda last April 7 in Cancun, Mexico.
Matthysse, a solid amateur before turning professional in June 2004, will look to turn what Soto hopes will be a boxing match into a brawl. The Argentine, who is well known for his thudding power, would be undefeated if only he’d received the benefit of the doubt in two very controversial and questionable points losses to Judah and Alexander (in which he knocked both of them down) in what amounted to home games for them.
The younger brother of retired former welterweight world title challenger Walter Matthysse, Lucas is coming off of two knockout wins in his native Argentina. In his lone outing this year, he scored a dominant sixth-round technical knockout win over Angel Martinez on Feb. 10. Prior to that, on Dec. 9 the 5-foot-9, 29-year-old knocked out Sergio Priotti in the fourth round.
Before that, Matthysse fought three left-handed former world champions in a row – Judah on Nov. 6, 2010, Corley on Jan. 21, 2011 and Alexander on June 25, 2011.
A two-fisted slugger who tends to start slowly, Matthysse spotted Alexander an early lead but rallied to drop him with a right hand in the fourth. He rocked Alexander in the seventh, eighth and tenth rounds, but it wasn’t enough as he lost by one point on one of the scorecards (95-94), by three on another (96-93) while winning by three (96-93) on the third card.
“I was robbed,” Matthysse said. “I gave it my all and it was a tough fight, but I thought I won. He’s lucky he won the fight.”
The aggressive-minded Matthysse obliterated Corley in a fight in Argentina, flooring him twice in the fifth round, once in the sixth, three times in the seventh and three times in the eighth. The referee finally halted the slaughter at 2:00 of the eighth.
Against Judah, Matthysse also overcame an early deficit before coming on strong in the late rounds, registering a knockdown in the tenth round and dominating the 11th and 12th stanzas. However, he came up on the wrong end of a split decision by the scores of 114-113 twice and 113-114.
“In Argentina, I win this fight,” Matthysse said. “Around the world, I win this fight, but he got the home decision. Zab never hurt me. I fought my fight and pressured him the whole time and I closed the championship rounds. I clearly won.”
Regarding his upcoming assignment against Soto, Matthysse, a tattoo artist in his spare time outside the ring, said, “It’s very simple, I need to go to war. I need to put a lot of pressure on him and I need to work hard and win every round. That’s the gameplan – go to war. I’m going to leave it all in the ring.”
Soto and Matthysse’s 12-round fight will immediately precede what should be an exciting 12-round main event between former World Champion, Kansas native Victor Ortiz (29-3-2, 22 KO’s) who now resides in Ventura, Calif., and contender Josesito Lopez (29-4, 17 KO’s) of Riverside, Calif.
Tickets priced at $250, $150, $100 and $50 are available online at www.staplescenter.com, www.ticketmaster.com, via Ticketmaster charge-by-phone lines at (800)745-3000 or at STAPLES Center box office.