Junior welterweight Edgar “El Chamaco” Santana, 22-3 (14 KOS), of Spanish Harlem cannot wait to get back in the ring at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York.
On Wednesday, March 5th, he will square off in the co-feature of promoter Lou DiBella’s latest installment of the Broadway Boxing series against Grover Wiley, 30-10-1 (14 KOS), of Omaha, Nebraska.
In the other featured bout, featherweight Gary Stark Jr., 20-2 (8 KOS), of Staten Island, will put everything on the line in his highly anticipated rematch with Andres “Andy Boy” Ledesma, 14-7-1 (9 KOS), a native of Colombia who fights out of Miami.
In their first encounter, in May 2007, Ledesma survived a third round knockdown to shockingly stop Stark Jr. in the fifth round.
Santana’s last appearance at the Hammerstein was as traumatic as Stark’s. In June 2007, Santana was stopped in the third round by Harrison Cuello, who was 14-5-2 going into the fight.
Although Santana was stung by the surprising defeat, he bounded back in December with a third round stoppage of Mike Gonzalez in the Bronx.
“I got the first one out of the way, so I’m anxious for this one to help put everything in the past,” the soft-spoken, 29-year-old Santana said at the February 6th press conference, which was held at Portabello’s restaurant on Murray Street in Lower Manhattan.
Santana admits that in the days immediately following the loss he was depressed. Realizing the best thing for him to do was get back to the gym, he resumed training within a week.
“The confidence came back quickly because I realized it was a lucky punch,” he explained. “What happened happened. The only way to get through it is to work through it and get it behind you.”
“In a twisted way,” added Santana, “the loss might have been a good thing. It has me more on point and I’m training much harder. I’m determined not to get caught with a lucky punch again.”
DiBella has a long history with Santana, so he was not ready to release him after the shocking loss to Cuello. He knows that in Santana’s chest beats the heart of a good fighter who can still bring his dreams to fruition.
“When I started with Edgar [in late 2002], he was 5-2,” said DiBella. “We had a good run. He basically came up through the Broadway Boxing series. Maybe he underestimated the guy (Cuello). Edgar’s a good kid and a hard worker and I think he still has a lot to offer the game. He’s not ready to give up on himself, so I am happy to give him another shot.”
In order to diversify his training regimen, Santana and his trainer, Martin Gonzalez, began traveling to different gyms throughout the city. They regularly hit John’s Gym in the Bronx, which was formerly the Jerome Boxing Club, as well as Gleason’s in Brooklyn and the Mendez Gym in Manhattan.
He got excellent sparring with, among others, perennial contender Ben Tackie who recently lost a decision to Kendall Holt.
“He can pop and he’s a good gym fighter,” Santana said about Tackie. “He made me work very hard, which is a good thing for where I am right now.”
Against Wiley, Santana will be facing a durable journeyman who did stop the legendary Julio Cesar Chavez in five rounds in September 2005. However, Wiley was also stopped in three rounds by Chavez’s son, Julio Jr., at Madison Square Garden in June 2007.
Last March, Wiley went the 10-round distance with undefeated New York favorite Dmitriy Salita, who was 26-0-1, at the very same venue where he will be squaring off against Santana.
Santana is much too sensible to take Wiley for granted. Chavez Sr. never expected to lose to Wiley, so Santana realizes that Wiley, regardless of his perceived limitations, is not coming to New York to just pick up a check.
“I am trying to prove myself in one of the most talented divisions the sport has to offer,” said Santana. “March 5th will be another step in the right direction.”
Also appearing on the March 5th show are:
Super middleweight Danny Jacobs of Brooklyn, a four-time New York City Golden Gloves champion who is 2-0 (2 KOS) as a pro. This will be the internationally renowned amateur’s first appearance in front of a hometown crowd.
Heavyweight Israel “King Kong” Garcia, 18-1 (10 KOS) and undefeated Puerto Rican junior welterweight Joel Torres, 8-0 (5 KOS).
Two female veterans of the NYC Golden Gloves will also be making their pro debuts in separate bouts:
Tracey Hutt of Island Park, New York, is a graduate of Hofstra University. She is employed as a physical education teacher.
Ruth O’Sullivan is a native of Ireland who moved to the United States in 1997. She is employed as a social worker in the court system.
Tickets are priced from $150 to $40 and are available by calling DiBella Entertainment at 212-947-2577. For more information on Broadway Boxing, visit the DiBella Entertainment website at: www.dbe1.com.