It was back in mid-May when the undefeated Giovani Santillan was to main event a Thompson Boxing Promotions show in Southern California. But those plans were derailed when dehydration struck while he was trying to make the 140 pound weight limit necessary for him to fight at super lightweight. Santillan was obviously upset, as was his entire camp, leaving what his next step for the future might be up in the air.
Though it doesn’t always seem like it at the time, things have a way of working out for the better, and that is exactly what happened in this case. Fast-forward to Tampa, Florida, in July. Giovani faced off against another undefeated fighter Sammy Valentin, who at that time had a record of 12-0 with 9 KOs. But things were different this time. Santillan moved up to the welterweight division and was facing Valentin for a title.
Giovani took full advantage of the opportunity provided him, and his experience and talent were evident. He did not beat Valentin, he destroyed him. He dropped Sammy twice in the second round, and continued to dish out punishment until the fight had to be stopped before the second three minutes had gone by. TopClassBoxing asked Santillan what the fight felt like to him, and whether or not he was surprised by that early stoppage.
“We are really happy and excited about that win,” Giovani told us. “I felt that we really needed it. The fight felt great. I had been fighting at a catch weight closer to 140 so I could still fight at 140, but I think moving up was a good move for us.
“My dad (and trainer) and I knew that he would come out strong, from watching a little bit of tape on him. I knew that by him doing that, I could probably catch him making a mistake. Right away in the first round I feel like I hurt him a few times in that round. Then in that second round that’s when I really landed some clean shots that really hurt him.
“So yeah, I definitely felt that it was possible to get him out of there early,” Santillan continued. “But we prepared for the 10 rounds, so we knew we could do it if we needed to. I was happy because when the ref stopped the fight I still felt good. That whole round, whatever it lasted, I was throwing a lot of punches non-stop. I didn’t want to let him get a second to breathe or think at the point when I had him hurt.
“Even when the ref stopped the fight I still felt good and strong. I could keep going and I knew that I had a lot more rounds left in me. We prepared really well for this fight.”
Giovani began fighting when he was eight years old, and turned professional at age 20. He has been with promoter Ken Thompson his entire pro career and his father has been his trainer. This was a great victory for the entire team.
“That win was big for everybody; Thompson, Alex (Camponovo), and everybody connected with us. But I am gonna get right back to training. Hopefully, there will be bigger names coming up for me to fight now. There are other undefeated fighters that we are gonna have to beat in order to get even further and get closer to the world title. But I know it’s coming.”
Giovani, who comes from San Diego, also teaches boxing classes to adults, which keeps him in the gym doing what he loves. Boxing is his entire focus right now, as it should be. His eye is on the big prize. Sometimes that can be tiring, because he has to go to other gyms for sparring, often having to make the drive up to Los Angeles.
“It is a little exhausting, what with the drive back and forth and the traffic. Sometimes I have to go teach my classes when I get back. But to be prepared we have to make that sacrifice. It’s worth it. And I don’t think about anything else but boxing. I believe that’s what it takes in order to be successful in this sport – complete focus and no distractions.”
This past Friday night at a Thompson Boxing Promotions event, Santillan was brought into the ring and honored on his big victory. It was great to see him there – with his belt, of course. It is always nice when good things happen to good people, and Giovani is another one of the good guys. We at TopClassBoxing wish him all the best in his quest for that world title!