The Battle of East and West
LAS VEGAS, NEV. – A world championship battle between north and south will highlight the May 2 pay-per-view undercard for Manny Pacquiao vs. Ricky Hatton: "The Battle of East and West." World Boxing Council (WBC) Super Featherweight Champion HUMBERTO SOTO of Mexico will defend his title against Canadian contender BENOIT GAUDET. The pay-per-view broadcast will also feature undefeated top-rated junior middleweight contender JAMES KIRKLAND, risking his rating and record when he takes on MIKE WALKER, former two-time world amateur champion and Russian Olympian MATT KOROBOV facing RODRIGO AGUIAR and former world amateur champion, Cuban southpaw ERISLANDY LARA against CHRIS GRAY. Combined, these eight gladiators have a combined record of 135-20-4 (84 KOs), an 85% winning percentage.
Humberto Soto (47-7-2, 30 KOs), from Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico, is making his second title defense since capturing the vacant title last December, winning a dominating 12-round unanimous decision over Francisco Lorenzo. Soto successfully defended the title on March 28, stopping Antonio Davis in the fourth round. Benoit Gaudet (20-1, 7 KOs), from Drummondville, Quebec, Canada, is riding a two-year, 11-bout winning streak. He has held the North America Boxing Association (NABA) super featherweight title since July 2008 when he defeated Jhohnny Antequera via a 12-round unanimous decision. He’s currently world-rated No. 9 by the WBC.
One of the most electrifying contenders in boxing, James Kirkland (25-0, 22 KOs) of Austin, TX has only gone the distance once in his last 17 fights. Even more impressive is the fact that he has only gone past the fourth round twice during his entire professional career. He returns to the ring fresh from his sixth-round knockout of former world title challenger Joel Julio on March 7. Kirkland’s impressive performances have catapulted him up the world rankings where he is rated No. 1 by the World Boxing Association (WBA) and the World Boxing Organization (WBO) at junior middleweight. He’ll be taking on Mike Walker (19-1-2, 12 KOs), from Chicago, who returns to the ring after defeating two-time world title challenger Antwun Echols on October 3, 2008. They’ll be fighting in a 10-round middleweight bout.
Matt Korobov (4-0, 4 KOs), a native of Orotukan, Russia, trains in Florida under the watchful eye of two-time Trainer of the Year Dan Birmingham. The tall, very skilled middleweight is known for his excellent combinations and power. In his last fight, he stopped Cory Jones in the fourth round of their February 21 fight at Madison Square Garden. Facing Korobov will be Rodrigo Aguilar (5-4, 3 KOs), who hails from Las Vegas and is known for his rugged style. They’ll be fighting in a four-round middleweight bout.
Considered to be one of the finest prospects to come out of Cuba’s famed amateur boxing system, Erislandy Lara (4-0, 3 KOs) captured a World Amateur Championship in 2005 and was expected to capture a gold medal at the 2008 Olympics before he defected from Cuba in a quest to fight professionally. Now living in Germany, Lara has won his last three bouts by knockout, the most recent coming against previously undefeated Keith Gross in February. On May 2, he’ll be fighting the far more experienced Chris Gray (11-7, 1 KO), who has won five of his last six bouts, in a four-round junior middleweight bout.
Pacquiao vs. Hatton "The Battle of East and West," presented by Rockstar Energy Drink and promoted by Top Rank and Golden Boy Promotions, in association with MP Promotions and Hatton Promotions, is a 12-round bout for Hatton’s IBO and Ring Magazine World Junior Welterweight titles.