INGLEWOOD — Giovani Santillan out-landed Alexis Rocha in every round up to his brutal sixth-round stoppage win Saturday at The Forum in Inglewood, and told ProBox TV and other reporters backstage that he'd like to fight Mario Barrios next.
"That's a fight that I'd like," he told us.
Earlier in the night, Santillan bludgoned Rocha from the opening bell. Rocha, with blood pouring from his nose, fought valiantly with swollen eyes and a bruised face.
From press row, it was a brutal yet brilliant beating reminiscent of some of the best boxing performances of the year — like Emmanuel Naverrete over Oscar Valdez.
The only difference is that, having landed 129 power punches from 267 thrown — mostly at Rocha's face — Santillan's head-hunting strategy paid dividends with a remarkable finish.
"This is the type of fight I wanted to give to show everybody who I am," said Santillan. "I'm happy that the promoters were able to come together, Top Rank and Golden Boy, to make a fight like this. I think we need that in boxing right now."
Santillan said the keys to his victory were aggression, being active, and putting his punches together. He said he started the fight "throwing bombs with single punches" but his corner told him to throw combinations to get Rocha out of there.
Considering Santillan was ranked fourth by the WBO heading into the fight, with Rocha No.1, Santillan said: "I feel [the win] makes me No.1 now."
It begs the question what is next for Santillan.
After watching Mario Barrios beat Yordenis Ugas at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on the Saul Alvarez card in which 'Canelo' easily out-classed Jermell Charlo, Santillan said he'd like to compete against El Azteca.
"I know he's got the interim title so anything that takes me closer to the world title" is something I'd relish, he said.
On other opponents, like Vergil Ortiz and Jaron Ennis, Santillan said: "If [Ortiz] stays at 147, then let's do it."
He added: "[Ennis is] another fight that's exciting for everybody. He's another good fighter."
Santillan finished by saying: "I got what it takes to get in the ring with these guys."