Ready for the rematch: Soto-Karass believes he beat Jones (23-0, 18 KOs) but he says he could have performed better had he been more active going into the first fight.
“I only had one fight the year before the Jones fight, and that was a two-round No Contest (vs. Gabriel Martinez),” he said. “I was heavy at the start of that camp because I had been out of the ring for six months, but I feel better prepared for this fight.”
Soto-Karass kept his weight down over the holidays and has been working out with larger sparring partners than he did for the first fight with the athletic 6-foot boxer-puncher form Philadelphia.
“He was a lot bigger and stronger than I thought he was, but that won’t change the way I fight him the second time around,” said Soto-Karass, who absorbed a frightful beating from Jones in the second round but survived and took the fight to the tuckered-out boxer for the rest of the fight.
“Now Mike Jones knows who he’s got in front of him,” Soto-Karass continued. “He thought it would be a walkover the first time. He was wrong and I think he’s going to be more cautious this time. He’s not going to step to me, but on my part, I’m going to make it a war.”
Sparring partner’s take: Reece Bennett, an amateur light heavyweight from San Clemente, Calif., has sparred with Soto-Karass three or four times a week for the past five weeks.
Bennett said he has been most impressed by Soto-Karass’ determination and fitness.
“It’s just the pure drive he has,” Bennett said. “I’ve hit him with hard shots before … and I outweigh him by 20 pounds. He just takes ‘em and comes back twice as hard. I slow down after eight rounds; he’s getting stronger and stronger.
“He’s Mexican. I can’t really explain it in any other way. He’s definitely ready (for Jones).”
Bennett also said that Soto-Karass can hurt you.
“I don’t think his (number of) knockouts represents his actual power,” he said. “He’ll break you down and keep breaking you down. I think that’s why he’s such a good pro fighter. The longer it goes, the other guys wear down and he’s just getting the steam going.”
Bennett, who is trained by Jesse Reid, is grateful for the opportunity to work with Soto-Karass.
“I hope I get another opportunity to spar with him again like I have been because I’ve improved exponentially,” he said. “What did I learn? I learned how to survive, that’s for sure. And one of the biggest things is confidence. I’m still amateur but I’m able to step in there with a top pro who hopefully is ready to win a title soon.
“I go into my (amateur) fights knowing that my sparring sessions were much harder. Of course, I still take them seriously but I’m more relaxed, more confident.”