Elwin Soto won the WBO 108-pound title earlier this year with some controversy, stopping Angel Acosta in the 12th round of their title bout in Indio, California, and he retained it tonight at the same venue, with perhaps less controversy but certainly some questions.
Soto (16-1, 11 KO) at least proved he wasn’t a total fluke, outpointing Edward Heno (14-1-5, 5 KO) over 12 rounds on scores of 114-113, 115-112, and 115-112. BLH had the fight 114-113 for Heno, but it was certainly debatable, and this wasn’t a robbery or anything.
Soto was ruled down in the third round on a questionable call, which made the difference on a 6-6 scorecard for me, but it was a flash knockdown at best, and it probably could’ve been ruled a slip.
That third round is where the fight kicked into a higher gear, too, with the Mexican titleholder and Filipino challenger trading blows and both doing some good work. Heno built up a solid lead going into the last three rounds on our card, but then Soto showed off just how strong his motor is, taking those final three to even it up in rounds. And it’s certainly fair to say those rounds ultimately won him the fight on the official cards that matter.
Soto is an interesting fighter right now. At 24, he could well get better, and at the very worst he’s a really scrappy, hard-charging guy who isn’t afraid to get dirty in a fight if he feels he has to, and we saw some of that this evening. Heno also acquitted himself nicely at this level, proving he’s a real fighter and a legitimate contender at junior flyweight.
This was, also, another entertaining Thursday Night Fights main event, keeping this series very strong since its March rebrand/launch, and if you missed the fight, it’s one worth checking out and seeing how you think it should’ve been scored.
Angel Acosta KO-5 Raymond Tabugon
Former 108-pound titleholder Acosta, who controversially lost his belt to Soto earlier this year, moved up to 112 for this one. Tabugon (22-11-1, 11 KO) did crack him with a good hook in the third round, but other than that Acosta controlled pretty well, and kept up his stop-or-be-stopped tradition, improving to 21-2 (21 KO). He’s stopped everyone he’s fought, or been stopped by them, other than a lone decision loss to Kosei Tanaka in 2017.
Acosta dropped Tabugon early in the fifth round, and Tabugon never got a chance to fully recover, as the Puerto Rican went to close the show and did so, smashing Tabugon with another left hook that put him on the canvas and the count was waived.
After the fight, Acosta, who plans to stay at flyweight, said he’s ready to take the top fights at 112.
Raul Curiel TKO-7 Jeremy Ramos
Entertaining fight. Curiel (8-0, 6 KO) is a tough prospect to gauge, because he’s a fun pressure fighter, makes for good TV, but at 5’8” he’s very noticeably soft in the body at 154 pounds, but that seems to be where he’s going to fight. They talked about maybe getting him down to 147, but that might be more hope than plan. Ramos (11-8, 4 KO) has a journeyman’s record, but he’s a good prospect checker who has been on plenty of TV cards, and Curiel becomes just the second guy to stop him, and the first since Daniel Valdivia in 2015. Ramos held real tough in losses to Alex Rincon and Travell Mazion this year, and also beat Neeco Macias, but Curiel broke him down. Ramos wanted no more after being floored in the seventh.
In the night’s swing bout, Norfolk’s Nick Sullivan improved to 2-0 (1 KO) with a first round stoppage of 39-year-old Gilberto Aguilar, who was making his pro debut and I guess maybe checking something off the bucket list. Aguilar was quickly overwhelmed by Sullivan, a 130/135 prospect, and it was over in less than two minutes.
140-pound prospect Jonathan Navarro improved to 17-0 (9 KO) with a second round stoppage of Lebin Morales (17-6-1, 8 KO). Morales was down twice in the second and his corner threw in the towel.
Welterweight/junior middleweight prospect Aaron McKenna went to 9-0 (5 KO) with a six-round shutout decision over Sergio Gonzalez (6-7-1, 2 KO).