Cuban Santana put himself in the mix at lightweight with a nasty KO win. (Tom Casino-Showtime)
HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. (Nov. 17, 2012) – Undefeated lightweight contender Angelo “La Cobra” Santana arrived on the scene in spectacular fashion in Friday night’s main event on ShoBox: The New Generation from Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla.The 25-year-old Cuban, now fighting out of Miami, steamrolled Johnny Garcia of Holland, Mich., en route to a fifth-round Knockout of the Year candidate.
As an amateur back in Cuba, Santana compiled a staggering 180-3 record, winning two national—and seven regional—championships before defecting to the United States in September 2007. Just four months later, in January 2008, Santana made his professional debut at Madison Square Garden on the undercard of Tito Trinidad-Roy Jones, Jr.
On Friday night, on his first nationally televised fight, Santana proved he’s here to stay.
From the start, Santana controlled the bout against Garcia, a rugged, wiry Michigan tough. Santana countered effectively in the opening round, instantly slowing Garcia’s attempted aggression. In the second, Garcia went down from a booming left hand. In the fourth, Santana opened up a deep cut over the eye. By then it was just a matter of time.
The outmatched Garcia sustained a second knockdown early in the fifth. Shortly after, he was forced back against the ropes where Santana unleashed fury. He finished with one flush left hand that flattened Garcia and forced the referee to halt the bout without administering a count.
“He showed he could fight. He showed he could box. But most of all, he showed us that he has devastating power,” said ShoBox analyst Raul Marquez, the former Jr. Middleweight World Champion.
Santana has now stopped all but three of his 14 professional opponents (14-0, 11 KOs) including seven consecutive in five rounds or less.
“Just because we didn’t know Santana coming in,” said veteran ShoBox analyst Steve Farhood, “doesn’t mean he doesn’t have big potential. A Cuban with a low profile is atypical. Tonight, in his national television debut, he was very impressive. I am looking forward to seeing him again.”
Earlier this week, middleweight contender Omar Henry withdrew from his scheduled main event bout with Juan Cabrera citing gallstones. As a result, Santana vs. Garcia was elevated to main event, paving the way for super welterweights Joey Hernandez and James Winchester to fill the ShoBox co-feature slot.
It was South Florida favorite, “Twinkle Fingers” Hernandez who took a 10-round unanimous decision by scores of 96-92 and 97-91 twice. The southpaw improved his record to 23-1-1, 13 KOs with eight consecutive wins. Hernandez hopes this appearance will help him continue to step up to bigger, more high profile fights, but that remains to be seen.
“Hernandez expects to move up the rankings and get more opportunities like he had tonight,” said Farhood. “But he needed to dominate an inferior opponent like Winchester and he simply didn’t do it.”
Next Saturday, British boxing superstar Ricky “The Hitman” Hatton makes his return to the ring after a three-year hiatus when he faces former World Champion Vyacheslav Senchenko in a 10-round Jr. Welterweight bout. The one-fight SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING telecast from Manchester, England will air live at a special time of 5 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast).
Sunshine State Showdown is promoted by Don King Productions. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. ET. Six bouts are planned, beginning at 8 p.m. Santana vs. Garcia and Hernandez vs. Winchester will be televised on ShoBox: The Next Generation live at 11 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast) on SHOWTIME.