Macias takes on veteran Soto Karass in Golden Boy on ESPN card


Cock-a-doodle-doo! Undefeated junior middleweight Neeco Macias lives up to his “Rooster” nickname by ground scratching, wing flapping, and crowing during the fighter introductions. But the fun doesn’t stop there. Once the opening bell rings, his exciting, all-action style takes over.

Thursday, at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, California, Macias takes on veteran warhorse Jesus “Renuente” Soto Karass in the headline bout of a Golden Boy on ESPN card.

Macias, 27, of Tehachapi, California, tallied his most impressive win to date in his most recent bout, when he stopped out previously undefeated Marvin Cabrera in the sixth round on Sept. 1. Macias’s relentless, rapid-fire attack wore down Cabrera, who stayed on his stool at the end of the sixth round.

Cabrera wasn’t the first unbeaten prospect to suffer his maiden defeat at the hands of Macias. In September 2016, the “Rooster” knocked down Roland Garza in the fifth round, and even though Garza beat referee Jay Nady’s count, he was deemed unfit to continue.

In 2017 Macias (17-0, 10 KOs) was diagnosed with plantar fasciitis in his left heel, a painful condition that involves inflammation of a thick band of tissue that runs across the bottom of the foot and connects the heel bone to your toes.

“It’s because we do so much roadwork,” Macias said. “We had to let it heal for 10 weeks. It kind of slowed me down and I couldn’t fight for almost a year.”

The Soto Karass bout will be Macias’s third since returning from the heel injury.

Considering the setbacks he’s had in recent years, it’s surprising that the 37-year-old Soto Karass is still fighting.

His skid began following the biggest win of his career, a 12th-round TKO of Andre Berto in July 2013. Soto Karass has gone 0-5-1 since then, including stoppage losses to Keith Thurman, Yoshihiro Kamegai and Juan Carlos Abreu, in his most recent match.

Soto Karass, of North Hollywood, California, said that he would retire after the Macias fight. “Whatever the outcome, a defeat, a victory or a draw, I will say goodbye to boxing.”

If he keeps his word, Soto Karass (28-13-4, 18 KOs) will have a number of significant wins to look back on with pride, including victories over Selcuk Aydin, Carson Jones, David Estrada and Michel Rosales, who was undefeated when Jesus stopped him in October 2006.

“A lot of people are telling me, ‘Oh, Soto Karass is old. You’re going to stop him.’ It’s like, in one ear and out the other,” said Macias. “These guys don’t know. I’ve seen Soto Karass get knockouts in the 12th round. He’s not going anywhere. He’s so tough. I just think it’s going to be awesome — ESPN and two Mexican-style fighters. It’s going to be great!”

As is always the case, popular brawler Soto Karass is going to give his very best, but going in, it sure seems like the “Rooster” will be the one doing the crowing when the fight is over.

In the co-feature, Manny “Chato” Robles III faces Jose Santos “El Torito” Gonzalez in a featherweight bout scheduled for 10 rounds.

Like the main event, the match features unbeaten prospect Robles (16-0, 8 KOs) against a battle-tested veteran in Gonzalez (23-7, 13 KOs).

Robles, 24, of Lake Elsinore, California, recorded his most notable win in his most recent bout, a ninth-round knockout of previously undefeated Edgar Valerio on June 14, 2018. Even so, he’s not taking Gonzalez for granted.

“I look at film. I checked my opponent out a couple of times,” Robles said. “Gonzalez has been fighting for a while, has a lot of fights. He’s a good boxer, he switches to southpaw, as well, but it’s nothing I’ve never seen before.

“I’m prepared mentally and physically for this fight. I’ve had a good camp, good sparring, and I’m ready to go on November 8.”

Gonzalez, 28, of Guadalajara, Mexico, fought most of is career as a bantamweight and junior bantam. He only moved up to featherweight in his last bout, an eight-round decision loss to Ruben Villa in August.

Gonzalez has lost four of his five most recent bouts, but one of those defeats was a majority decision to undefeated Duke Micah in November 2017. Micah got off to a fast start and built an early lead, but Gonzalez rallied in the mid and late rounds to earn a draw on one of the judge’s scorecard.

Only one of Gonzalez’s seven losses came via knockout, so don’t be surprised if he’s still on his feet, fighting hard, when the final bell rings.

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