Few were giving him a chance. Considering that Giovanni Santillan has spent the majority of his career fighting in unwelcoming places against nondescript opponents, a large segment of the boxing world had no idea who he was. They were also clueless to his capabilities.
This past Saturday night, at the Kia Forum in Inglewood, California, Alexis Rocha quickly realized that he was in over his head.
Although he was highly ranked and pulled off several eye-catching wins, most notably against Blair Cobbs, Rocha, who was once on the verge of fighting Terence Crawford, was wiped out, losing via sixth-round stoppage.
Now, with the biggest win of his career under his arm, Santillan (32-0, 17 KOs) is already looking ahead.
“I was watching Mario Barrios fight a few weeks ago,” Santillan told a group of reporters. “That’s a fight I would like.”
As Santillan alludes to, Barrios had the performance of his life as he blasted out Yordenis Ugas. Much like Santillan, oddsmakers were convinced that the former welterweight champ would be a bit too much. Barrios, however, ignored the dubious voices coming from his critics and went on to win the WBC interim title.
That trinket is now one of his prized possessions, it also makes Barrios a wanted man. Santillan is yet another fighter that recently called out the 28-year-old.
For most, their motives are simple, relieve Barrios of his interim strap. Santillan, on the other hand, has other plans. Of course, knocking Barrios off his high horse is salient to his career going forward but Santillan views him as a gateway, a portal if you will, that could lead him to bigger and better matchups down the line.
“He’s got the interim title, so anything that will take me closer to a world title. He’s another guy I would love to get in the ring with.”