All photos by Hogan Photos/Golden Boy Promotions

In a battle to stay relevant within the Welterweight division, former title contender Mauricio Herrera (24-7, 7 KOs) took on veteran Jesus Soto Karass (28-12-4, 18 KOs) in the Golden Boy Boxing on ESPN main event Friday night from the Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, CA.

Anyone who follows boxing knows that this fight was a “fans fight,” a fight main stream audiences may not be interested in, but one that was definitely circled on any boxing fan’s calendar. Herrera and Soto Karass did not disappoint. With a nationally televised platform at their helm Herrera and Soto Karass engaged in a fight that likely created new fans.

Herrera controlled the action in the early rounds behind an effective jab to the head and body. Soto Karass was unable to close the distance efficiently and was countered by Herrera for his efforts. Soto Karass landed a hard left hook in the fourth as both fighters began to exchange heavy leather, much to the delight of the crowd.

From the fourth round on, the ebb and flow of the fight added to the suspense for the crowd. Herrera would arguably win a round behind his jab and accurate counter punching, only to have Soto Karass storm back the very next round behind his relentless pressure and volume punching.

Soto Karass’ pressure paid dividends late in the fight as Herrera could not keep him off. Soto Karass’ power advantage also began to show as a result of all the heated exchanges during the fight.

In the ninth round, Herrera was visibility hurt from a barrage of punches which opened a cut above his right eye. In the 10th and final round, Soto Karass looked the fresher fighter and continued to land heavy punches while applying pressure. Herrera landed counter hooks and both men spent the last minute and a half of the round going toe to toe.

“I will give him the later rounds, because I do feel that he came in strong,” admitted Herrera after the speak. “However I feel like overall my team played a strong clean, fight. I knew he was coming off a long lay-off, so I knew he was going to come in at 110 percent and just as good as he was before he took a year. I can’t wait to get back in the ring.”

Judges at ringside scored the fight 96-94, 96-94 and 95-95 and awarded Mauricio Herrera a hard fought 12-round unanimous decision.

With his win Herrera moves on to try and land a bigger fight in the stacked Welterweight division.

“Give me two months and I’ll be back,” said Herrera after the fight. “I felt like I started out strong, landing my jab, and was controlling the fight smartly. By the end of the fight, I was standing a bit more, and landing more of the obvious open shots.”

With his performance you can all but guarantee Soto Karass has earned the opportunity to be in another televised fight.