Cooking with Humberto Soto
By Coyote Duran (Aug 24, 2005)  
Photo © Rick Guzman/
Anyone who knows Thing One about cooking knows how important the substitute ingredient is. You know, Splenda over sugar, vinegar in place of lemon juice or mayonnaise instead of eggs...

What? Like you've never cooked.

Substitution is sometimes necessary depending on your dietary needs or lack of an original ingredient. Interestingly enough, lack of an original ingredient dictated the fates of two featherweights whose paths crossed one Saturday night in the Chicago suburb of Rosemont.

One, a young, undefeated contender with an amateur pedigree, successful at the Olympic level and in line for his first big-time title shot, professionally. The other, a hard-nosed, obscure Mexican national who, on this night, was about to reap the benefits of being ‘the next in line’.

The original recipe was simple. Take the first ingredient, i.e. the young contender, combine with one part Korean titleholder, mix well and turn up the heat for 36 minutes. Damned if we didn't have any In Jin Chi in the pantry, though. But what do you use when you're fresh out of kickass Grade A WBC titleholder? You go to the next best thing.


When we got the news that In Jin Chi was scratched from the co-feature to the Fernando Vargas-Javier Castillejo main event broadcasted by HBO, I think we all felt a little gypped. Certainly, the number one contender to Chi's strap, Rocky Juarez, was still in place but without a titlist to challenge, namely one that could produce intense drama, well... it felt like being served twice-baked garlic and chive potatoes without an Angus sirloin.

The missing ingredient. So now we're looking for a tasty substitute that doesn't suckify a potentially great meal. Sounds like we could use a little hard-nosed, obscure Mexican national right about now.

Luckily, the 126-pound division just happened to have one available.

Enter Humberto Soto, Los Mochis, SIN, Mexico featherweight and surprisingly potent replacement ingredient. With very little preparation time, the little known (except to the fistic hardcore) Soto would step in as Juarez's opponent in place of In Jin Chi. Instead of In Jin's alphabet strap, Juarez and Soto would clash for the distinction of being Chi's absolute next opponent while gaining something called the ‘WBC Interim Featherweight title’.

Mind you, until In Jin Chi suffered an injury to his Achilles’ Tendon thus taking him out of the fight, Juarez had spent weeks training for the no-nonsense, all-business Korean. Now, in lieu of a genuine title on the line, the undefeated Texan found himself risking his zero against a new challenge. A pugilistic pop quiz, if you will.

If that wasn't a task-and-a-half, consider that this quiz was to be taken in a very large room and most of the occupants in said room didn't want Juarez to pass.

Adding to Juarez' blossoming chagrin was that, out of nowhere, this cat had skills. Over the course of twelve frustrating rounds, Rocky Juarez would indeed discover how skilled Humberto Soto truly was.

No matter what angle or distance Juarez would come from, Soto had a string of jabs or a sick uppercut on the ready. Sure, there would be spots where Juarez would find moderate success, winning a round or two depending on whether or not effective aggressiveness came into play or as a result of attempting to steal the rounds.

Depending on whether or not you believed Soto's dubious point losses in the ninth and tenth heats for hitting behind the head were deserved also could very well have contributed to seeing those rounds for Juarez. One thing is for certain: Juarez wasn't his best and refreshingly enough, he knew it.

But before we all abandon the ship with the kid still anchored to it, let's address the tangibles. First, look at Soto's record as opposed to Juarez's. Soto hadn't lost a fight since July of 2002, a twelve round majority decision to Kevin Kelley. If you're searching for further cracks in Soto's record, you'll find that he did suffer a TKO loss (his only knockout blemish) in the eleventh against Hector Marquez over five years ago and it was only because his corner did the quitting for him. Add all this to a respectable record of 36-5-2 and 1 no contest (21 KOs) (prior to Juarez) and then remember that Juarez 23-1 (16 KOs) did 36 minutes with this character.

Now with these variables in place, isn't it easier to accept that maybe Rocky Juarez isn't a fighter who feasted entirely on soft touches only to be exposed by a hungry foil?

You bet.

And speaking of hunger, doesn't it just figure that when you're all out of Korean Chiles, a jalapeno would do in a pinch?

Damn dish still tasted good, didn't it?
© Copyright / All Rights reserved: Doghouse Boxing 1998-2005