Giovanni Santillan moves into position
Last July, Giovanni Santillan burst onto the scene by stopping Sammy Valentin in two rounds in a battle of undefeated welterweight hopefuls. By winning this fight in emphatic fashion in front of a national audience on Telemundo, Santillan – who headlines the latest Thompson Boxing Promotions card at the Doubletree Hotel in Ontario, California – captured the WBO NABO title.
This meant he earned a Top 10 ranking within the organization. Currently he is ranked fifth by the WBO behind Terence Crawford (who will face organization titleholder Jeff Horn), Manny Pacquiao, Egidijus Kavaliauskas and Danny Garcia.
Santillan says of his standing in the division, “I think I’m one of those guys that’s going to come out of nowhere and surprise, just like I did for Sammy Valentin. Once I get that opportunity to fight a bigger name, I think they’re going to be surprised by who they’re facing because I’m not known yet like that but I think I have a lot to show.”
Currently Santillan (who ended 2017 by scoring a fourth round stoppage of Dodzi Kemeh last November) is 23-0 (13). 147 pounds is a stacked division replete with blue-chip beltholders and elite talent.
So in his view, who’s currently the best 147-pounder in the world?
“Y’ know, I cant just say one name. I’d say some of the bigger, better fighters would be (WBA titlist) Keith Thurman, obviously, (IBF beltholder) Errol Spence and Crawford. I think those three are at the top of my list, right there,” was his reply. “Those are the guys I look forward to fighting someday.”
As for when that might occur for the 26-year-old from San Diego, he states, “I think that can happen any time. I think that could happen this year, definitely. It’s about me getting that call and getting that opportunity and I’ll be ready for it. If I were to get a call right after this fight against a big name fighter, I’d take it.
“I think that’s all it takes – just get that opportunity. It can happen this year, definitely.”
Alex Camponovo, the general manager and matchmaker for Thompson Boxing, admitted to UCNLive.com, “We’re in a holding pattern. Obviously the first thing he needs to go through is be successful against Alejandro Barboza. That’s not an easy fight by any stretch. Everything goes well on the 28th (of April), we can definitely have a better idea.
“But if nothing fails and everything goes as planned, we are talking to the WBO, seeing about the possibility of an elimination fight. It’s going to be very difficult. There’s a lot of guys that are in front of him that we are looking for that particular fight and we have Manny Pacquiao there. You have Terence Crawford, who’s going to fight the champion. So we’ve got to wait and see what happens. What position is (Santillan) going to be in?”
Pacquiao is scheduled to face WBA “regular” champion Lucas Matthysse on July 14, while Crawford is a heavy favorite over Horn. While all this is happening, the plan is to keep Santillan busy.
“Absolutely, this is why he’s fighting this fight,” said Camponovo. “Then we’ve got to see what happens in the summer. We also have Roberto Arriaza, who just won the WBO Intercontinental title against Sammy Valentin on Telemundo, in a knockout in 20 seconds. He fights May 11th, so if all the chips fall on our side, you could see a fight between the two guys in the summer, hopefully on ShoBox, on a nationally-televised event.
“But I will only do that if it entails a higher position or guaranteed something good in the near future in the WBO.”
Prior to the bout with Valentin, Santillan was an unknown nationally, having been a staple at the Doubletree Hotel, for the past few years. For this fight, he traveled cross-country to face Valentin in Tampa, as the visiting fighter. “It was a very important fight for me, the biggest fight of my career, so far,” he recalled. “but we were up for the challenge. We trained very hard and getting that win, we’re very happy about that.”
And perhaps there was the element of surprise on Santillan’s side. Prior to that match-up, Valentin had his way with his previous 12 foes. ”He really overlooked me, underestimated me and I think that’s part of the reason I was able to catch him and surprise him.”
Santillan, a southpaw, seems to be fully matured physically and his punching power is coming along. They say punchers are born not made but he explained, ”I think moving up in weight was a smart decision. I used to try to fight at 140. I would fight at a lot of catchweights around 140 because I was planning on winning a world title at 140 but my body just couldn’t do it anymore. So that fight with Valentin was my first at 147 and two fights at that weight class and I’ve felt way better. I get to the weight feeling a lot stronger and I think it’s showing in my performances.”
It’s clear that, after the Valentin KO, Santillan has emerged as a more confident fighter moving forward.
“It definitely gave me a confidence boost but it was more that I was just happy because I don’t think a lot of people believed in me and believed I would perform the way I did because I hadn’t fought a fighter that was undefeated like that,” he stated. “But I knew what we were capable of. We were confident. I had a great training camp and looked good in my sparring sessions and I have confidence in my team.
“They did their part; I did my part and we knew it all had to come together that night.”
LOCKED ‘N’ LOADED
Here’s some ticket info for this card:
Tickets for “Locked ‘n’ Loaded” are priced at $40, $60, & $100 and are available for purchase by calling 714-935-0900 or visiting ThompsonBoxing.com.
In the six-round co-feature, unbeaten bantamweight prospect Saul Sanchez, 7-0 (4), of Los Angeles measures his skills against Sam Rodriguez, 5-2 (3), of Orlando, Florida.
Tom Loeffler joined Mario Lopez and me, in-studio, on the latest installment of “The 3 Knockdown Rule,” to talk about “Cinco de Golovkin” at the StubHub Center.
Camponovo says, “We’re going to be back in Salinas (California) in late July, early August,” with a card that will feature Ruben Villa again at the Storm House. He adds that Thompson Boxing is still looking to land venues/dates in San Diego and Midland, Texas…This card at the Doubletree Hotel on Friday will be streamed, as usual, on the Thompson Boxing Facebook page and on its website with Beto Duran and me on the call starting at 8 p.m. PT/11 p.m. ET…Look for WBA 122-pound titlist Danny Roman to make a title defense in Los Angeles in June…Kanye West sure knows how to stir it up; doesn’t he?…Yeah, I’m a fan of Josh Rosen. I think he’s the best pure arm talent in this upcoming NFL Draft…Can’t wait for Braxton Berrios to be chosen by the Patriots…I can be reached at email@example.com and I tweet (a lot) at twitter.com/steveucnlive. I also share photos of stuff at instagram.com/steveucnlive and can also be found at tsu.co/steveucnlive.