By Jake Donovan
Angel Acosta’s quest to become a two-time junior flyweight titlist might have to come against someone other than the man who dethroned him.
Mexico’s Elwin Soto claims the World Boxing Organization (WBO) 108-pound title with a thrilling—and controversial—12th round stoppage over the Puerto Rican knockout artist last Friday in Indio, Calif. Acosta was ahead on all three scorecards heading into the final round, when he was clipped by a left hook and under siege when the fight was abruptly halted.
Preliminary plans called for his team to file a protest for an immediate rematch. However, the exiting titlist might have to instead wait his place in line as the WBO is prepared to order Soto to make his first defense versus mandatory contender, Japan’s Tetsuya Hisada.
The mandatory defense is due within 120 days, although it is not uncommon for former titlists to jump the line, especially on the heels of a disputed outcome.
Most observers felt Acosta should have been afforded at least a few more seconds to recover from the eventual fight-ending flurry. Referee Thomas Taylor thought otherwise, as he didn’t like the look in Acosta’s eyes upon getting clipped or his reaction to Soto’s incoming punches while pinned along the ropes.
Acosta (20-2, 20KOs) was also dropped in round three, but nearly swept the remaining rounds on all three scorecards prior to the abrupt ending.
A pairing between Soto (15-1, 11KOs) and Hisada would mark two junior flyweights both riding separate 13-fight win streaks.
Hisada (34-9-2, 20KOs) struggled early in his career, which began in Nov. 2003. He was just 8-4 after his first 12 starts and by 2015 was sitting at 21-9-2 and regarded as little more than undercard filler.
The streaking contender—who turns 35 in October has been on a roll ever since, the bulk of his current win streak coinciding with his campaigning full time at junior flyweight after having previously fought closer to the flyweight limit.
Still, he’s never fought outside of his native Japan and lacks anything close to resembling a win over a notable contender.
Of course, as much was said of Soto who was fighting outside of his native Mexico for just the second time and way above his level of opposition heading into his fight with Acosta.
A request for a rematch will have to come before the WBO orders the mandatory title defense, which puts Acosta on the clock—or else, on the hunt for another way to put a divisional strap back around his waist.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox