MANNY Pacquiao was a good fighter before he met trainer Freddie Roach. But he became a great one only because of lessons learned under Roach’s tutelage.
Burn Soriano may well have found his Freddie Roach in new trainer George Castro who will be at the Filipino MMA fighter’s corner in his next fight as an undercard at ONE: Hero’s Dream at the Thuwunna Indoor Stadium in Yangon, Myanmar on Nov. 3, 2017.
Castro relocated from Tucson, Arizona, USA to help ONE Heavyweight World Champion Brandon “The Truth” Vera set up the first Alliance MMA branch in the Philippines.
Other than Vera, Castro has also worked extensively other highly-regarded veterans of the sport, including Dominick Cruz, Ross Pearson, Jeremy Stephens and Chris Leben.
Castro says Soriano shows the potential to be a very good and possibly a great fighter.
“I got high expectations for Burn this fight because he’s in much better shape as you can see in the way he looks. Also his mental game is a lot better now,” said Castro during an interview with Manila Standard at the Fight Armory Gym in Timog, Quezon City last Thursday, Oct. 19.
“These last few weeks we’ve been preparing mentally because fighting is 80 percent mental. People think it’s a lot physical. I keep telling him in there that it’s not just hit each other back and forth. It’s also about a game plan. He’s never had a game plan before. He’s never been coached before. Hopefully it all comes together this fight.”
Castro believes Soriano’s weakness in his fighting are his conditioning and his mental game. Going into his next fight he says Soriano is 200 percent better than he’s ever been his entire career.
“He will have no problem going three rounds if he needs to. Although I don’t believe he will need to. I don’t like making predictions but I don’t see it going three rounds,” said Castro.
Soriano will be looking to bounce back from a bitter loss to Saiful “The Vampire” Merican 10 months ago at ONE: Throne of Tigers at the iconic Stadium Negara in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia.
The Filipino hoped to follow up his spectacular 15-second demolition of Satya Wirawan August 2016. His bout against Merican was equally spectacular but it was Soriano who retired after the first round.
“I believe that I could have done better in that match with Saiful Merican. I was prepared to go full three rounds, but I came up short. I just realized that there was something missing,” Soriano said.
The loss to Merican made Soriano realize that he needed help. He turned to Castro who came to the Philippines to set up the renowned Alliance MMA’s new gym as well as program to train MMA fighters.
“Right now, I have a tremendous support system in my training, especially with the help of my coach George Castro. He knows how to bring out the best in me. With him in my corner, it is always exciting to prepare for a bout,” Soriano said.
Soriano has always been an exciting fighter to watch. Although holding a checkered 3-win, 3-loss card all his bouts have ended in the first round. The 31-year-old native of Ilocos Sur has always made sure his audience received their money’s worth in his fights.
“It is very important for me to be entertaining. I take the risks. I want the crowd and fans to get what they want, which is an exciting fight. I just enjoy what I am doing. I am passionate about it. Everyone should go out and prove something to themselves and not to anyone or anybody else,” Soriano said.
The Soriano-Castro tandem gets its acid test when Soriano faces unbeaten Chinese fighter “Rock Man” Chen Lei.
Soriano hopes Castro can help unlock his full potential to become the best fighter that he could be.
“I want to win so badly. I have dreams and aspirations as a competitor. In order to turn those into a reality, I have to win first. This is the first step. My team is outstanding. I have the best coach in my corner. I also train with the most talented athletes in the region. With that said, I’m motivated and oozing with confidence coming into this bout because I have them behind me,” Soriano said.
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