John Molina and Humberto Soto will kick off the televised action this Saturday night, as the two junior welterweight veterans will meet in a 10-round fight on Showtime at 7:00 pm EDT, one hour ahead of the Mayweather vs Maidana pay-per-view event from Las Vegas.
Molina (27-4, 22 KO) is coming off of a loss in a Fight of the Year candidate against Lucas Matthysse in April, going toe-to-toe with the fearsome 140-pound slugger in a true war that left both men bloodied and battered. Soto (64-8-2, 35 KO), meanwhile, is looking to establish himself as legitimate in the division, working on six straight wins since his own stoppage defeat to Matthysse in 2012.
"I'm very happy to return to Las Vegas and to represent Mexico here," said Soto, a 34-year-old from Los Mochis, Mexico, now living in Tijuana. "I'm calm and relaxed because of my preparation. I'm always the underdog but I end up winning."
Soto is a former titleholder at 130 and 135 pounds, and also held an interim belt at 126. He's fighting over his natural weight these days, and has to rely on skills rather than the power he once was able to call upon. Nicknamed "La Zorrita" (The Crafty Little Fox), he'll need to dip into his bag of tricks against his opponent.
Molina, 31, is a natural lightweight himself, but simply a bigger man in frame than Soto. The Covina, California, native has shown a flair for the dramatic with rally knockout wins over Hank Lundy and Mickey Bey (who fights for a world title on Saturday's card), but has also shown vulnerability in a 44-second loss to Antonio DeMarco in a 135-pound title shot. His bravery and resolve against Matthysse may have been his best pro performance to date.
"I'm looking forward to going out there and giving the fans a great show," he said on Tuesday. "It's a beautiful feeling to be here and I'll never let my fans down. Come Saturday night you will see another great fight."
Despite the general feeling that he may be too big for Soto, Molina isn't overlooking his opponent's talent, but he does want a rematch with Matthysse if he wins.
"Soto demands my undivided attention," he said. "I think the fans already know that me and Lucas Matthysse have to do it again."
Soto does not plan to be Molina's stepping stone to something bigger. "Like all true Mexicans, we always fight with our heart and give our all. I'm going to do my part and make sure all the fans get a great fight."