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A Must-Win for Soto Karass?

(Photo © German Villasenor)
(Photo © German Villasenor)


There really is no such thing as a “must-win” in boxing. Unlike other sports, where there are real standings and playoffs, boxing is really about how popular you are and what you can get in terms of opportunities within the marketplace. If you have a fan-base, you can drop a fight or two and not really suffer a drop in marketability and lucrative opportunities still await you. As for your career being dependent on continuing your career, well, as history has shown, many fighters perform long past their best forms and don’t have their licenses pulled by the commissions.
But what do exist are fights that will determine your value in the industry moving forward and perhaps your willingness to be in this racket.

That’s the position Jesus Soto Karass finds himself in this weekend as he faces Selcuk Aydin (Showtime, 10 p.m., ET/PT) at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
Win and he’s a player in the welterweight division and in line to make a decent living. Lose and, well…he’s working the graveyard shift of this sport.
“This is an opportunity for me to give a good show and to get a chance at a world title, which I’ve been waiting for,” Soto Karass said through his interpreter, John Chan.
Back in September, Soto Karass was in an entertaining, back-and-forth slugfest with Marcos Maidana. He seemed to be right in the thick of things before being halted in the eighth round.
“Looking back, I decided to stay and brawl with ‘Chino.’ We just had to move and not stay in the corner and get punched. We had to move,” he lamented.
With a victory that night, Soto Karass was probably on the doorstep of a title or another lucrative, high-profile bout. Instead, the loss had many questioning his future in the sport.
“It was extremely disappointing,” said his co-manager, Sergio Diaz, of that defeat. “We had a game plan; we knew Jesus was actually the bigger man in that fight. He had the best training camp ever; he was up there in Big Bear but he actually just lost his head in that one. He started listening to the crowd, the cheers. There were a lot of Mexicans against an Argentinean and he just started fighting for the crowd instead of following the game plan. I think that was the cause of the defeat.”
And with that, Diaz believed Golden Boy Promotions, which picked up Soto Karass in the middle of 2012, would give him the boot. Instead, they gave him a chance to right himself on Showtime. Diaz admits, “I’m actually surprised because I was wondering what was going to happen. I actually thought Golden Boy was going to give Jesus a release. We were all worried about what was going to happen. Jesus mentioned he wanted to fight but I told him it actually wouldn’t be worth it if you’re going to be fighting for small purses. I was actually worried about him getting injured in a fight where he wasn’t going to be making a lot of money. But this opportunity came out. We sat down; we spoke about it and Jesus is back in there. But he has to come out with that arm raised up. If not, we’ll be retiring him.”
So why did Golden Boy call his number again?
“He makes great fights,” stated their matchmaker, Eric Gomez. “He’s the type of fighter people want to see. You know that when he’s in a fight, it’s blood-and-guts and he’s going to go to war. It’s an exciting style; people like to see him and Showtime had no problems putting him back on and we thank them for that. And he made a great fight with Maidana and throughout his career, he’s made very good fights. He’s the kind of fighter that people want to see.”
The aforementioned is true. Soto Karass, who for much of his career was overshadowed by stablemate Antonio Margarito, is a guy not blessed with that much natural talent. He’s a grinder who has sucked every drop of ability out of himself and had the resiliency to craft a career. His record of 26-8-3 (17) speaks to the type of road he’s traveled. Early on, he was fed to undefeated prospects and went on a three-fight losing skid but still rebounded to put together a string of victories and become a regular presence on television.
And the reason is pretty simple: Soto Karass usually makes for good programming. And with fighters of this nature, it’s not always about the wins and losses.
“How many losses did Arturo Gatti have?” asked Gomez rhetorically, citing perhaps the greatest example of this dynamic. “People loved to watch Gatti  - and I’m not saying Soto Karass is Arturo Gatti - but certain styles he’s going to look great and we matched him up perfectly in this fight with Aydin.”
This is also true. While Lucas Matthysse is this broadcast’s headliner, it’s this match-up which may provide the most fireworks on Saturday evening. Aydin himself is looking to rebound from a loss, having dropped a tough decision to Robert Guerrero over the summer. They say styles make fights and these two seem perfectly suited for that. But don’t ask the happy-go-lucky Soto Karass for a scouting report on Aydin. “The only thing I know about him,” he admitted, “is that they call him ‘Mini-Tyson’ because he goes forward and is aggressive. But I don’t really like to watch videos of my opponents. But I’m ready for this fight and to give a good performance for the people.”
So while others think his back is against the wall, Soto Karass, who has a “What, me, worry?” demeanor that would make Alfred E. Neuman chuckle, isn’t all that concerned about his prospects in the sport should he lose. He’s a fighter. They’re not always good at making long-term plans that go beyond the rounds they are scheduled for. But it would be a good idea to win (of course, it always is).
Diaz states, “He’s aware of that. We’ve actually spoken about that. He knows that if he doesn’t come out victorious in this one, he’s going to really be considering retirement. We’re actually speaking about it; we mentioned that. There’s no reason to continue in this business as an opponent. He has to really consider retirement if he doesn’t come out with a victory.”
Soto Karass says simply, “I still have a future in boxing, so I’m going to give my best for this fight.”
Here’s the ticket info for this card (from a Golden Boy release):
Tickets priced at $150, $100, $75, $50 and $25, plus applicable taxes, fees and services charges, along with a limited number of VIP suite seats priced at $125, are on sale now and may be purchased at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Box Office, all Ticketmaster locations, online at or by phone at (800) 745-3000.
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