Giovani Santillan (23-0, 13 KOs), the No. 7 rated welterweight by the WBO, delivered a masterful performance in knocking out Dodzi Kemeh (13-2, 12 KOs) in the fourth round Friday night in Thompson Boxing Promotions’ “New Blood” main event.
With the knockout win, Santillan successfully defended his WBO NABO Title for the first time.
“I wanted this performance to be memorable and it certainly was,” said Santillan, who lives in San Diego, but conducts most of his sparring in Los Angeles. “I’ve worked hard to get to this point and I look forward to what’s ahead in 2018.”
Santillan likely climbs the rankings after his emphatic win, potentially landing inside the top five and earning serious consideration for a world title opportunity.
The unbeaten southpaw was on point Friday night from the Doubletree Hotel in Ontario, Calif. He landed a jarring left upper cut that constantly split the guard of the bigger Kemeh. He used an accurate jab to keep Kemeh honest, and he closed out the show by landing steady combinations.
After the fourth round, Kemeh confusingly walked toward a neutral corner, which prompted an examination by the ringside physician. He consequently ruled him unfit to continue, which led to the fourth round stoppage win for Santillan.
Featherweight Erick Ituarte (19-1-1, 3 KOs) shot out of the corner with both hands firing resulting in a first round (2:52) knockout of veteran Gustavo Molina (15-17, 5 KOs) in the “New Blood” co-feature.
Ituarte looked like a man on a mission launching combination after combination. Near the end of the first round, Iturate punched Molina into his corner and delivered an onslaught that forced referee Raul Caiz, Jr. to stop the fight just seconds before the bell.
“I wanted to start fast and not let this go to the judges,” said Ituarte, who won his last two fights by split decision. “He wasn’t ready for what I brought tonight [Friday].”
Lightweights Manuel Mendez (15-2-3, 11 KOs) and Abraham Cordero (13-3-2, 7 KOs) fought to a majority draw as neither boxer could put their stamp on the 8-round fight. Each fighter had moments, with Mendez finding success inside the pocket, and Cordero attacking well from the outside.
Bantamweight prospect Mario Hernandez (4-0, 1 KO) of Santa Ana, Calif. earned his first knockout win by routinely backing up David Martino (4-4, 4 KOs). The stoppage win came at the 2:40 mark of the second round.
Hernandez threw a high volume of punches that immediately put Martino on the defensive. In the second, Hernandez stepped on the gas and fired a variety of punches from every angle imaginable to stun and stop Martino.
Lightweight prospect Ruben Torres (3-0, 3 KOs) of Los Angeles made it three straight first round knockout wins to begin his professional career. Trained by the well-respected Danny Zamora, Torres jumped on Alejandro Zepeda (0-3) from the start.
It didn’t take long for Torres to land his strong right hand. He connected early, knocking out Zepeda at the :42 mark. Torres boasts natural boxing ability and his tall frame (6’0″) should allow him to box effectively in multiple divisions.
In a battle of unbeaten prospects, it was Jonah Flores (2-0) that stood out and dominated Ivan Martino (1-1, 1 KO) to the tune of a unanimous decision sweep (40-36). Flores, out of Riverside, Calif. and trained by Henry Ramirez, showed a solid skill set in picking apart the active Martino.
Flores displayed a high guard and accurate punching throughout the 4-round fight.
After a four-year layoff, junior welterweight Luis Zarazua (7-0-1, 4 KOs) returned in thrilling fashion in the “New Blood” show opener by punching out the overmatched Luis Silva (4-12, 2 KOs) in the first round (2:43).
Midway through the first stanza, Zarazua dropped Silva with a left hook to the body. Zarazua, who fights out of Edinburg, Tex., continued to push the tempo and landed a combination that floored Silva for the final time near the end of the round.