Humberto Soto used to be a reliably good time. As a pressure fighter, his style catalyzed action. But over the years, he had become a bit more technical, and rarely of late has he been in memorable bouts.
It took a practicing pressure fighter, Urbano Antillon, to bring back Humberto Soto, Action Star. Over 12 rounds in December in the main event of a Top Rank pay-per-view, the two top-10 lightweights waged violent war. Antillon got fully up in Soto’s business, and Soto had no choice but to stand and trade at times.
As the more nuanced pugilist of the pair, Soto got the better of things, for the most part. He would occasionally wobble Antillon, especially toward the close of rounds. But Antillon came away with some chunks of Soto in his teeth, too. He tore at Soto’s ribcage, in particular. Just when it seemed like Antillon was about to fade or go down, he would rally the very next round.
I do not deem Soto-Antillon the TQBR Fight of the Year with much conviction. I won’t hazard a guess about whether anyone else will. I will say that I expect among the year-end award-giving crowd, several fights – Ricky Burns-Rocky Martinez? Amir Khan-Marcos Maidana? – are likely to win laurels.
I went with Soto-Antillon because it was the fight that I thought featured the most sustained action, the most back-and-forth punch-swapping. Both men bore shiners for their troubles. In the end, Soto won in part due to his superior sweet science. But the rest of that phrase coined by Pierce Egan goes “the sweet science of bruising,” and Soto rediscovered the “bruising” part thanks to Antillon. We can thank both of them for it.