Photograph Credit: Carlos Baeza / Thompson Boxing Promotions
Our one-on-one interview with undefeated junior welterweight, Giovani “Gallo de Oro” Santillan, as he prepares for his main event bout October 24 on “New Blood” at Thompson Boxing Promotions in Ontario California.
In life and boxing, the ascent to the top is rarely clear, easy or even attainable. Often times it is clouded with adversity, littered with difficult challenges that seem impossible to overcome, and more times than not crevasses of uncertainty appear out of nowhere and can change the course completely.
While the climb may be difficult and at times insurmountable, proper planning, dedicated preparation and flawless execution are the variables that create an opportunity for success. For one local fighter, the climb continues and maintaining focus, being prepared and proceeding one step at a time will be the keys to reaching the summit.
Giovani “Gallo de Oro” Santillan (14-0, 8 Kos) is a hard-nosed southpaw from San Diego who is coming off a fifth round TKO over Osenohad Vazquez, on August 16 at San Diego Harley Davidson under Southern California’s Thompson Boxing Promotions. Santillan, who hails from San Diego has been fighting under Thompson mostly in Ontario, California, however, his bout at “Path to Glory” this summer was his first in front of his hometown. For Santillan, earning the NABF Jr. Welterweight title in San Diego in front of his family, friends and fans was something he will never forget.
“It was really great to get that win in front of my friends and family. And also for other fans in San Diego who hadn’t had a chance to see me fight yet. And to win that title…it was really great,” says Santillan.
With the pressure of fighting in front of his hometown fans, in the main event and for a title, Santillan knew that being smart would prove integral to sealing a victory. After a slow start in round one, in which Santillan used the round to feel out his opponent, the shifty southpaw turned up the action and landed hard shots for the remainder of the fight.
“I was really feeling him out at first. Then I noticed some of my punches were really hurting him. At that point I turned it on. That is something I usually do and will be prepared to execute in this fight,” Santillan explains in detail.
In round three, after a low blow and some physical exchanges, Santillan turned a switch that saw his intensity rising and punch output increasing exponentially. I asked the San Diegan about the change in demeanor after the physical exchanges. “It is something that comes natural, but we do work on it in training. It is something that I need to be prepared to bring out at any point in the fight,” he tells me.
Sitting ringside you could sense a change in his attitude, from calm and collected to vicious and tenacious. It was during that time that Santillan ended the fight with several hard combinations, earning a fifth round victory and the NABF Jr. Welterweight title.
With an undefeated record intact and a title to add to his resume, one can only make assumptions about where Santillan sees the direction of his career and where the ceiling may be. For those who don’t know Santillan, confidence, focus and hard-work are ingredients that motivate him and the foundation of his character inside and outside of the ring.
“A lot of things motivate me. But the one thing that pushes me is that we know we are not at the top. It was a good step forward to win the belt, but we still have work to do and I know that,” Santillan explains.
So what is next for the undefeated junior welterweight? His fourth fight of the calendar year and a tough test in Luis Solis (14-4-4, 12 KO’s), who is coming off two tough losses. As expected, Santillan is ready to move on from his August victory and take the next step to the top. And to be victorious, sticking to the game plan, listening to his coaches and working hard in the gym are the things that will make him successful in reaching the next phase of his young career.
“Camp is going really well. We have had some great sparring so far and I feel really good about where we are at. The training has been pretty similar to the last fight. The only thing that changes a little bit is the game planning for this fight. This guy is taller than the last guy and we know that may play to his advantage,” Santillan explains.
Solis, a tall, rangy opponent is coming off two tough losses, which included a split decision and unanimous decision loss. Santillan understands that any fighter is dangerous and that being mentally prepared for anything will be important if he is going to be victorious on October 24 in Ontario, California at “New Blood.”
“We saw his last few fights and he did really well. He is a good fighter and we know he is going to push this fight to try and secure the win. We know that and we will be prepared,” he tells me.
If being mentally, physically and emotionally prepared isn’t enough, Santillan also pulls knowledge from an experienced corner that includes his father, a connoisseur of the sweet science, and trainer, Danny “Dynamite” Perez, a former fighter himself who held a 38-4 record and is the former NABF Welterweight champion. The presence of Perez and the experience he brings from his days inside the ring give Santillan an advantage only a small group of fighters get to experience.
After his win in August, Perez ensured that Santillan was fully aware that there is more work to do. “He [Coach Danny Perez] basically told me that the work is not done and we need to continue to work hard in the gym. Also, to be sure that these wins don’t go to my head and that we stay focused,” says Santillan.
Where the top of the mountain is varies among everyone. Small goals that are reached with ease may be the endgame for some. It is the big goals, which include adversity that deter most from continuing, but drive few to keep moving forward. And to achieve the ultimate goal, small steps as part of a strategic plan prove integral to making the final push to the top.
“Each fight is a good step forward, but it’s not where we want to be in the end. We need to continue to work in order to get where we want to be.” – Giovani Santillan
“New Blood” is presented by Thompson Boxing Promotions and sponsored by Lucas Oil, in association with KCAL 96.7 FM Rocks!, KOLA 99.9 FM, and LATV Networks. Doors open at 6:30 p.m, and the first bell rings at 7:45 p.m. The Doubletree Hotel is located at 222 N Vineyard Ave, Ontario, CA 91764 and can be reached at (909) 937-0900.
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