Giovani Santillan (32-0, 17 KOs) is targeting WBO welterweight champion Terence Crawford for his next fight after stopping crowd-favorite Alexis Rocha (23-2, 15 KOs) in the sixth round on Saturday night at the KIA Arena in Inglewood, California.
Crawford could be performantly out of reach for any of the welterweight right now, apart from Errol Spence Jr., and the only reason he’s fighting him is because of their rematch clause.
Santillan looked impressive with his combination punching and the way that he adapted during the fight, going from throwing single-power shots to throwing combinations.
Once Santillan began throwing combos in the fifth, that’s when he began hurting Rocha. He knocked him down twice in the fifth and another time in the sixth.
Let’s do it. If he wants to take it, let’s do it,” said Santillan to ESNEWS. “I appreciate him taking the fight about wanting to challenge WBO 147-lb champion Terence Crawford.
“I worked really hard for this. I’ve been waiting for an opportunity for people to be able to see me on stage like this main event against an opponent like Lex [Rocha],” said Santillan to the media on Saturday night after his victory over Rocha.
“The last time I was in this position where I was the B-side, with the majority of the crowd on his side, I got a second round knockout. Sometimes, I need that to fuel something in me to get the fire in me going,” Santillan said.
“This is the type of fight that I wanted to show everyone who I am. I’m happy that the promoters were able to come together, so I’m thankful to David McWater and Top Rank & Golden Boy for making this happen. They came together to make this happen. I think we need this in boxing right now.
“All the top fighters from different promoters need to get together and fight. I was watching Mario Barrios fight a couple of weeks ago. That’s a fight that I would like.
“He has the [WBC] interim title, so anything that will take me closer to a world title. So, he’s another guy I would love to get in the ring with. Anybody that is up there right now? That’s just somebody that I saw recently fight that I think would be a very interesting fight for me,” said Santillan about Mario Barrios.
“I think being aggressive, being active, putting my punches together. That’s what my corner was telling me.
“In the beginning, I think I started off throwing a little more bombs with single punches, and they told me, ‘Okay, you’re doing good with that, but if you really want to get this guy out of there, you got to put your punches together.
“Combination, three, four at a time, as well as still be defensive in there. I’ve been working a lot right now in throwing more body shots in training camp. With the fight was playing out, I felt that I needed to get him right there.
“I had him, so I was kind of head-hunting a little bit, but I felt I was breaking him down, and it worked out for me in the end. He’s tough. That says a lot about Alexis Rocha because I thought after the first one, he might not get back up, but he got back up.
“He got back up and showed that he’s a warrior right there, and he’s tough, and that he’s not going to lay down. I didn’t expect that at all coming in, especially with being in the ring with him before. I always knew that this would be a war.
“I gave him a little huge. I haven’t had much of a chance to talk with him. The crowd was kind of in the way. I wish him the best going forward. I think Lexi Rocha has a bright future going forward.
“I felt that this was a good fight that boxing fans are looking for right now. I hope the whole world got to see this because this is what I needed to show this type of performance in front of everybody,” said Santillan.