By Mike Smith: Former two division world champion Jessie Vargas (29-2-2, 11 KOs) stopped former super featherweight champion Humberto Soto (69-10-2, 37 KOs) in the sixth round of a scheduled 10 round fight at a catch-weight of 151 pounds on DAZN on Friday night at The Forum in Inglewood, California. Boxing News 24 had Vargas ahead three rounds to two at the time of the stoppage.
Using his four inch height advantage, the 5’11” Vargas dropped the smaller 5’7″ Soto in the sixth round with a right hand to the head. After Soto got back up, Vargas teed off on him with a storm of shots that led to referee Thomas Taylor waiving off the fight with Soto trapped against the ropes and taking punishment. The time of the stoppage was at 1:48 of round six.
Vargas, 29, suffered a bad cut over his left eye in round two from a clash of heads. It was an intentional thing. It was a situation where both fighters came together, and their heads bumped. With Soto being much shorter, the top of his head came in contact with the taller Vargas’ left eye, and it opened up a bad cut.
In round three, Soto hurt Vargas with a right hand to the head that clearly had him buzzed slightly.
Soto, who has spent of his career at super featherweight, was giving Vargas all he could handle in the first four rounds of the fight. Vargas started imposing his size in the fifth round, and punishing Soto on the inside with hooks. Soto didn’t have the size to compete with the bigger Vargas when the two came in close.
In the fifth round, Soto came alive in the last 10 seconds and nailed Vargas with some hard shots.
Vargas connected on 131 of 402 shots for a connect percentage of 33, according to CompuBox. For his part, Soto landed 85 of 365 punches for a 23% connect percentage.
“I think the body shots wore him down,” Vargas said. “He’s a crafty veteran. I got him with a right hand. I hadn’t knocked anybody out in five years,” Vargas said.
It makes a difference obviously when you’re matched against someone as small and as old as Soto. We’re talking three divisions apart the two fighters were. Vargas was much bigger than Soto. Vargas’ promoter Eddie Hearn should have matched him up against a junior middleweight rather than a fighter that has spent his career at super featherweight.
This was a good fight tonight, but Vargas’s size and youth advantage was too much for Soto. In Soto’s previous fight, he pulled off an upset against the younger, and bigger Brandon Rios last February. Rios had recently been signed by Matchroom Boxing USA promoter Eddie Hearn, and he wanted to build him up for a world title shot, but Soto ruined those plans. Hearn then used Soto for the even bigger Vargas, and there was no way the 38-year-old could handle that size mismatch.
Vargas has been saying all week long that he wants to challenge for a world title in his next fight against WBO junior middleweight champion Jaime Munguia. It would be in the best of Vargas if Hearn at least matched him against a fringe contender at junior middleweight instead of having Soto as the stepping stone fighter to a title shot against Munguia. Someone like Liam Smith, Erislandy Lara, Sergio Garcia or Bakhram Murtazaliev would be good options for Vargas to fight to prove himself worthy of fighting for a world title against Munguia. Soto isn’t a junior middleweight, so he shouldn’t be a guy that leads to Vargas getting a title fight against Munguia. Besides that, Vargas doesn’t look ready to challenge for a world title against Munguia, who is viewed as the weakest link among the champions at 154. Munguia would be too much for Vargas from the way he fought tonight. Champions Jarrett Hurd and Tony Harrison would have too much as well in this writer’s opinion.