Giovanni “Gallo de Oro” Santillan Kos Mexico’s Rivera in SoCal

ONTARIO, CALIF-San Diego’s Giovanni Santillan walked into the ring knowing very little about Mexico’s Eduardo Rivera but wasted little time in disposing of him with a furious assault to win by knockout in the first round of the junior welterweight bout on Friday.

“I told everyone I wasn’t going to waste any time tonight,” Santillan said.

Santillan, (16-0, 9 Kos) a southpaw, was supposed to face another fighter but that fighter pulled out last week. Rivera (9-2) took the fight but paid a heavy price in front of more than 1,500 fans at the Doubletree Hotel.

The junior welterweights immediately slipped into attack mode with Santillan the sharper and quicker puncher. Rivera waded into the punches and tried to match Santillan but ran into a blistering combination including an uppercut that snapped his head back. Santillan kept the pressure on and blasted away at Rivera who slumped to the floor after absorbing more than six blows. Referee Ray Corona stopped the fight at 2:28 of the first round for a knockout win.

Santillan’s speed and southpaw stance have proven to be quite effective.

In the co-main event Isaac Zarate (10-1-1) had problems with Mexico City’s Pedro Melo (10-8-2) in the first half of their eight-round bantamweight fight. But he pulled ahead with a more aggressive attack in the second half of the fight.

Zarate allowed Melo to steal two rounds and the crowd when he slowed down in the last minute of every round. Soon fans shouted Melo’s name though Zarate was more accurate with his punching and his defense proved the difference in the fight. Melo was effective with right hands against the southpaw Zarate, but couldn’t land more than a single punch at a time. Zarate was quicker, but lost steam in almost every round.

The judges scored it for Zarate 79-72 and 78-73 twice. Referee Marty Denkin returned to the judge’s seat after a brief absence. It was good to see the veteran judge who has been one of the foremost judges in the last decade.

Other bouts

Former Ukrainian Olympian Taras Shelestyuk (11-0, 8 Kos) had minimal competition against Mexico’s Francisco Reza (13-12, 10 Kos), who didn’t seem to have his legs walking into the ring. Shelestyuk was the faster fighter but either wanted more rounds or allowed Reza to survive into the third round.

A shower of blows in round one sent Reza to the floor, but he survived the round. Shelestyuk seemed to slap combinations on the defenseless Mexican which scored points, but could prove fatal later in the Ukrainian’s career. It’s OK in the amateurs but in the pros he will pay for that mistake.

In the third round Shelestyuk increased the pressure and though Reza stayed upright it was just a matter of time. The Mexican’s corner threw in the towel and informed the referee that Reza had enough. The fight was stopped at 1:26 of round three.

Former champion Ruslan Provodnikov accompanied Shelestyuk into the ring.

Colombia’s Cesar Villarraga (6-0, 4 Kos) didn’t take long to figure out the taller Jesus Angulo (3-7) of Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. After some combinations, Villarraga forced Angulo against the ropes and unleashed a quick and powerful double left hook to the body and head. Down went Angulo as referee Raul Caiz Jr. counted him out at 1:55 of the first round.

Villarraga looked sharp and seems to have found his range as a professional in the lightweight class. He trains in Santa Fe Springs.

In a flyweight bout Gilbert Mendoza (5-4) of Modesto handed undefeated Francisco Lapizco (7-1, 2 Kos) his first loss by out-boxing the heavy-handed counter-puncher over six rounds. Mendoza figured out Lapizco’s style quickly and stayed out of range of the counter left hooks. The fighter from Sonora, Mexico never could mount an attack and lost because of it.

LaRon Mitchell (6-0, 6 Kos) withstood a heavy body attack from Arizona’s Chad Davis (5-13) in the first round of their heavyweight bout to mount his own body attack. By round three, Mitchell was connecting flush and floored Davis with a left to the liver. In the fourth round Mitchell finished the job with another left to the body. The fight was stopped at 44 seconds into round four by referee Raul Caiz Jr.

Follow David A. Avila on the Twitter: