One thing about the “little engine that can” Thompson Boxing Promotions, they have a knack for finding world class pro boxing talent. They also feel they’ve found another gem in San Diego’s Giovanni “Gallo de Oro” Santillan.
Santillan (15-0, 8 Kos), a slick junior welterweight southpaw with speed, can also bang and he’ll be matched against last-minute replacement Eduardo Rivera (9-1-2, 3 Kos) of Mexico on Friday, June 20. The main event takes place at the Ontario Doubletree Hotel.
“Giovanni is a very good fighter,” said Alex Camponovo, the matchmaker for Thompson Boxing.
History has shown over the past 15 years that the Orange County-based company has a very accurate barometer when it comes to junior welterweights. Two of their previous discoveries, Tim “Desert Storm” Bradley and Mauricio “El Maestro” Herrera, have proceeded to make big money purses. Bradley captured world titles at junior welterweight and welterweight. Herrera should be walking around with a world title strapped around him if not for some curious scoring.
Can Santillan be Thompson’s next elite fighter?
Since 2013, the San Diego boxer with a long amateur career has been facing solid competition, including a rousing match against a tall undefeated Ukrainian named Daniyar Hanyk, training out of the Wild Card Boxing club. After eight terse rounds that saw each connect solidly, Santillan was able to pull ahead with his better defense to win by unanimous decision.
“Many of them can box really well,” said Santillan, of his Ukrainian opponent Hanyk, who had 10 wins and no losses when they met last April. “And they’re warriors. They come to fight. They are always tough guys.”
After that fight Santillan made sure to spar with other Russian and Ukrainian boxers.
“They’re strong guys,” he added.
The 23-year-old Santillan has been boxing since he was eight years old when his father took him and his brother to the local boxing gym. Giovanni stuck it out and has proceeded to win tournaments, and win selection to Mexico’s Junior Olympic team. It was then that he was exposed to another boxing form.
“In Mexico they bring Cuban trainers. They get hired from Cuba and they help with the boxing team. Cuban amateurs are some of the best in the world,” said Santillan. “The partner drills are little different from what I’m used to. It made us a lot better.”
Santillan said that the training drills and methodology learned while with Mexico’s Junior Olympic team have stuck with him through his entrance to the pro ranks.
“It’s not all defense. We want to score of course. Hit and not get hit,” Santillan said. “We try to get the knockout, but at the same time be smart as we can.”
Focus is one discipline that Santillan tries to maintain as he ventures in the pros. It’s a long road for any boxer but the bull’s eye is marked and he has world title belts on his mind.
“We want to take it far. We want to go for multiple world titles,” said Santillan. “It’s something I’ve always dreamt about to make it as far as possible.”
Ken Thompson, president of Thompson Boxing, said his promotion company is entering the heavyweight sweepstakes. “Yes, we signed a heavyweight named LaRon Mitchell,” said Thompson.
San Francisco’s Mitchell (5-0, 5 Kos) faces Chad Davis (5-12, 4 Kos) in a heavyweight clash. Davis last fought and lost to former heavyweight world champion Serhei Liakhovich by decision after eight rounds.
Also, newly signed Isaac Zarate (9-1-1) meets Pedro Melo (10-7-2) in a bantamweight bout set for six rounds.
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