“Diamond” David Santos: I’m ALWAYS willing to Fight!”

02.08.05 - Interview by Fiona Manning: “Diamond” David Santos, one of the true gentlemen of boxing will not be saying a permanent farewell when he faces Panamanian journeyman Armando Cordova at the St. Pete Times Forum, Tampa, FL on Saturday night. Santos, whose record stands at a mighty 45-6, 29 KOs, had previously said this would be his final bout, but now he’s finding that boxing insiders do not want him to retire..

Here’s some more news, folks. Neither does David Santos truly wish to bid adieu to the sport he loves. Yeah he’s a nice guy. And yeah everybody tells him that.

That’s his problem.

“Nice people never get paid,” said Santos by phone from his home in St. Petersburg, Florida, where he has been sparring with IBF 130 pound champion Robbie Peden.

“I’ve been doing this a long time,” Santos said. “If I was getting world title fights or if I was getting decent pay days, I’d think about staying in it. But promoters forget, we’re taking all the punches and why would I want to do that for $7500 for a world title fight when I could get that for a local fight it St Pete and hand-pick my opponent?”

Why indeed?

Santos has more reason than most professional fighters to have a thing or two to say on the subject of compensation.

When Steve Forbes failed to make weight in his IBF title defense against Santos, was stripped of his title, he was forced to pay Santos $25,000. Forbes then showed up weighing 28 pounds more than me on the day of the fight.

“I wasn’t going to do it,” Santos said. “They had to talk me into it. What bothered me the most and I will never understand this, but when the California State Athletic Commission fined him $25,000, they took half the money! I was the one who had to go in there and fight a very tough fight with a much bigger opponent. That’s what hurt the most.”

Like most fighters, Santos took time off his day job (as a diamond trader) to train for the Forbes fight and his wife was expecting their first baby.

“I trained too hard not to fight,” he said. “I have to say my promoter at the time, Dan Goossen was great about it. He worked extra hard to make sure I got the second title shot against Carlos Hernandez but frankly, I thought I won the fight with Forbes.

“I really don’t understand how the Commission allowed that fight to go on. I turned up at 132 pounds, Forbes was 156. I am just glad I wasn’t hurt. I was a junior lightweight fighting a junior middleweight!”

Santos said given the same circumstances today he probably wouldn’t take a fight like that; then again this is the man who says he’s retiring.

“I always say that before I start training for a fight,” he said with a laugh. “Then when I get into shape and get really good sparring like I am now, I don’t know how I am going to walk away.”

Robbie Peden, who considers Santos a very close friend and is in training camp with him (Peden has his 130 pound unification bout with Marco Antonio Barrera on September 17), believes the retirement is temporary.

“That’s because he knows me very well,” said Santos, whose 2 ½ year old daughter Marisa refers to Peden as “My Robbie.”

Santos said that Peden looks so good he wouldn’t be surprised if the Aussie superstar got in 1000 rounds by fight time.

“He’s very low-key. There isn’t a lot of talk about Robbie for this fight, which will work to his advantage I think. Robbie is the total package. He has the power to knock out Barrera and the skills to box him. Anyone who thinks Barrera is in for an easy night is in for a big surprise.”

Many boxing insiders believe there’s plenty of life left in the talented Santos, too. While he agrees the top tier of the 130 pound division is made up of some of the sport’s truly good guys, he’s toying between waiting to see what comes next and waving it over forever.

“It’s time,” he says in one breath. “I don’t want to get hurt.

In the next, he mentions promoter John Karoly whose Four Corners Promotions out of Pennsylvania is looking to get him a decent payday.

While Saturday’s bout with Cordoba looms, there’s probably little risk of a huge upset. Cordoba’s record is 20-17-1, 15 KOs. He lost to Peden last year and was knocked out in one painful round by Miguel Cotto in January.

What does Peden say about Cordoba’s abilities? “That once you hit him, he likes to move around,” said Santos.

He’s excited to be sharing Saturday’s bill with his close friend Jeff Lacy (facing Robin Reid at 168 pounds).

“Jeff and I grew up together, we went to the same school together. We went to school with Winky Wright. People can say what they like about boxing but boxing made us men.

“What really impresses me about Winky is that he’s become such a man. He’s the 10 million dollar man and he’s still Winky. He hasn’t changed a bit and you can’t say that about many professional athletes.”

Except maybe David Santos.

He’s still a diamond man and calls diamonds his passion.

“I love making people’s dreams come true,” he said. “And women love big rocks. I’m the start of every marriage, I like that.”

Does his own wife have a big rock?

Santos laughed. “She has a decent-sized one,” he said. “It took a long time, but I was finally able to get her a nice one.”

And wouldn’t you know it, his customers become friends and they go to his fights. Former opponents send him gifts for his kid…who wouldn’t want a guy like this to stick to the sport of boxing?

It’s more than a little bit suspicious when he says things like, “…and when Robbie knocks out Barrera, I’ll fight him in Australia.”

Point that out however and Santos says, “If it doesn’t happen, it’s called retirement. It’s hard to get motivated for no money. Give me a decent pay day, I’m always up for that. I’m always willing to fight.”

Like they say, diamonds, rough or smooth are hard. And they’re very, very valuable.

Article posted on 03.08.2005

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