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Know Your PPV Undercard: Humberto Soto v. David Diaz

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We conclude this three-part series on the Pacquiao-Clottey undercard with the main event's chief support. Earlier in the day we looked at John Duddy-Michael Medina and Jose Luis Castillo-Alfonso Gomez.

Humberto Soto (50-7-2, 32 KO) v. David Diaz (35-2-1, 17 KO)
Lightweights - 12 Rounds - For the Vacant WBC TItle

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(Photos by Nick Laham and Ethan Miller / Getty Images)

Different fighters and different hype means that I look at fighters in different ways. While I might find something positive to take from Jose Luis Castillo beating up on a bunch of gatekeepers, journeymen and scrubs in recent times, the recent career of Humberto Soto leaves me cold.

A lot of times with a guy like Soto, we say that he's better than his record, and Soto got that tag for a while. He lost a fight in 1998, four days after he turned 18 years old. He lost another one the next year. He lost two more when he was 20. He lost a majority decision in 2002 against Kevin Kelley. And in 2008, referee Joe Cortez made an awful decision to disqualify Soto against Francisco Lorenzo, whose face Humberto had turned into a bloody disfigurement.

That's six of his seven losses accounted for. Then there's the seventh, which came in November 2007 in a highly-anticipated fight against Joan Guzman. Guzman didn't make it pretty, but he made it very decisive, routing Soto over 12 rounds and outboxing him pretty easily.

Even if you don't totally ignore the "loss" to Lorenzo (and you should), Soto has gone 28-2 since that 2002 loss to Kelley. But really, it's a fluffed-up record, and his grassroots legend has been built very nicely.

There is really just one win that truly sticks out. In 2005, he won a narrow decision against Rocky Juarez, taking the hyped Texan's "0" and turning some heads. But since then, almost everyone he's fought and beaten has been cut from the same cloth. Guys like Oscar Leon, Ivan Valle, Humberto Toledo and Antonio Davis are all credible fighters and no pushovers, or at least weren't coming in, but they're not wins that really make you go, "Wow!"

Last year, Soto stayed active, fighting four times. In March he plowed through Davis (TKO-4), then about six weeks later beat a very tentative Benoit Gaudet (TKO-9) on the Hatton-Pacquiao show.

On Mexican Independence Day he was matched against Colombian Aristides Perez, which was a disgrace of a fight approved by the WBC as a title-worthy bout. Perez was 15-0-1 coming in, but the fighters he'd faced had a combined record of 13-93-4 (two of them were making their pro debuts), and he had never fought outside of the very forgiving rings of his home country. Soto predictably laughed his way through a two-round bashing.

Then in December, Soto moved up to lightweight and beat the shadow of Jesus Chavez.

Which brings us to David Diaz. The Chicago native Diaz also beat Chavez last year, though he had a rougher go of it than did Soto. That can be at least partially chalked up to ring rust, as Diaz hadn't fought in 15 months after being blasted by Manny Pacquiao in June 2008. Diaz, 33, beat Chavez by majority decision in his hometown.

Diaz's only pro loss besides Pacquiao came in 2005 against Kendall Holt. For the most part, his record is somewhat unimpressive. The affable Diaz did stop Jose Armando Santa Cruz to win the interim WBC lightweight belt in 2006, and a year later retired Erik Morales, at least for a couple of years. His tune-up to face Pacquiao revealed many chinks in his armor, as he struggled with known sparring partner Ramon Montano in what was supposed to be an easy, attention-grabbing non-title bout on the Marquez-Pacquiao II undercard.

Diaz is slow, doesn't have much pop, and isn't exactly versatile. Pacquiao's speed and power destroyed him, but Soto isn't Pacquiao. Soto, though, is a pretty relentless pressure fighter when he's on his game, and one wonders if Diaz has the tools necessary to combat that.

Frankly, I can't see it. Diaz rather easily falls in line with the rest of the marks that Soto has been buzzsawing his way through in recent years, a competent fighter who just isn't strong enough, fast enough, or durable enough (or some combination thereof) to neutralize Soto for an entire fight.

For years, it seemed like Top Rank was keeping Soto in reserve to face Pacquiao if needed. Now, they've "been trying" to set up a fight between Soto and Edwin Valero. The first fight never happened. The second looks like it won't ever happen either. So now they just have Humberto Soto, and he'll beat another guy on Saturday night. Soto TKO-9