Sunday Convo: Giovani Santillan serves an upset special

This edition of ‘The Sunday Convo’ is focused on the man who served an upset special last night on DAZN, and that’s undefeated welterweight Giovani Santillan (32-0, 17 KOs). Although he went into the ring as a 5-1 underdog and promotional ‘B-Side’ opponent, Santillan made the best of his main event opportunity and produced a brutal stoppage over Alexis Rocha (23-2, 15 KOs). The fight was stopped after Santillan knocked Rocha down for the third time, and referee Ray Corona felt he could no longer continue.

If Santillan wasn’t motivated to win last night while walking into the ring, there was even more incentive once Rocha came out as he made him wait what seemed like a lifetime before walking out of the back. Both fighters were very familiar with each other as they’d sparred and known each other for years, but this was a big fight, and both knew what a loss could mean for their careers.

In the ProBoxTV fight preview, Rocha needed to avoid staying in the pocket too long, as that would play into Santillan’s style of aggressive inside fighting. Rocha didn’t do that, and in the first round, he tried to play the role of the bigger man, but it backfired on him. Santillan was in his grove, and by the end of the first round, Rocha sat on his stool with a busted nose, which was bleeding profusely, while Santillan and his trainer, Robert Garcia, were beaming with confidence. 

There was never really a point where Rocha could get going as Santillan was cutting off the ring well and applying massive amounts of pressure, which made Rocha work even harder. You can tell that Santillan had next-level sparring during his camp as he was in great shape and walking through Rocha’s shots. Through the third and fourth rounds, Rocha tried to get back to boxing but often found himself close to Santillan and receiving big shots from the 31-year-old from San Diego, CA.

In the fifth round, things started to fall apart for Rocha as Santillan began to sit on his punches. It was a combination of a left uppercut, a left hook, and then a right hook that sent Rocha down not once but twice in that round. Santillan tried to finish Rocha but punched himself out a bit in the middle of it, and Rocha started to come on late in the round. It would be the last stand for Rocha as in the very next round, Santillan would again land that devasting combination that got him two knockdowns the round prior, but this time, Rocha would not be allowed to continue as he was a broken fighter with a busted-up face.


Santillan will have options for bigger fights as soon as next year. His win on Saturday night will undoubtedly see his stock rise within the sanctioning bodies, and if he ends up replacing Rocha at number one with the WBO, then some interesting things can happen. A fight with undisputed champion Terence Crawford is possible, but if Crawford vacates and Santillan is sitting at the top spot, would it surprise you if we see Santillan fight Teofimo Lopez now that he is the super champion at junior welterweight? It’s worth looking at as Top Rank positions itself for some welterweight title opportunities.