Giovani Santillan (24-0, 14 KOs) made a compelling case for a world title shot opportunity by knocking out Alejandro Barboza (11-2, 7 KOs) in the second round Friday night from the Doubletree Hotel in Ontario, Calif.
With the win, Santillan retains the WBO NABO welterweight title and could conceivably climb from his No. 5 ranking. It was Santillan’s second successful title defense – both by knockout – since winning the belt by second round stoppage over Sammy Valentin in Valentin’s hometown of Tampa, Fla. last July.
“I told everyone that I was going to finish this fight early and that’s what I did,” Santillan said. “I normally don’t predict knockouts, but I’m fighting with such confidence right now that I think I can beat anyone in the welterweight division.”
The shot that ended it all – a crushing left hook to the body in the second round that crippled Barboza (2:33 mark). Since moving up to welterweight for the Valentin fight, Santillan has three early knockout wins on his resume. The southpaw from San Diego, Calif. is settling in nicely in what is perhaps boxing’s most loaded division.
“My punches are definitely stronger at 147,” said Santillan, who has been with Thompson Boxing since the early days of his career. “After the first round I knew I would be able to knock out Barboza. I was able to push him around basically. When I saw the midsection open up in the second round, I went for it.”
In the “Locked n’ Loaded” co-feature, Saul Sanchez (8-0, 4 KOs) of Pacoima, Calif. delivered an excellent performance in picking apart Florida’s Sam Rodriguez (5-3, 3 KOs) through 6-rounds. Sanchez, trained by Joel Diaz, won by lopsided unanimous decision with scores: 59-55 x2, 60-54.
Sanchez, 20, put his entire skill set on display by fighting off his front foot for the majority of the fight, routinely connecting on two and three punch combinations.
“I felt like I could land a combination whenever I wanted,” said Sanchez, who signed with Thompson Boxing earlier this year. “I found the angles every round and I know I hurt him a few times. I could tell he was tired. He was just trying to finish the fight.”
In the early rounds, Sanchez found success going to the body with a strong left hook. In the fourth, Sanchez went on the offensive and punched Rodriguez onto the ropes numerous times. At the point, the fight had been decided in Sanchez’s favor.
Lightweight George Acosta (5-0, 1 KO) of South Whittier, Calif. registered the first knockout win of his career over Bryan Santiago Tovar (0-2) of Mexico. Acosta scored the stoppage victory at the 1:23 mark of the second round.
Acosta, who recently signed with Thompson Boxing, was credited with a knockdown in the first round, but it appeared more like a slip than a legitimate drop. Nevertheless, Acosta came out with fire in his eyes in the second. He pushed Tovar back with an active jab and uncorked a series of strong shots to the head that caused Tovar to take a knee.
Referee Raul Caiz, Jr. examined Tovar and made the right call in ending the fight at that moment.
Super bantamweight Jonah Flores (4-0) of Riverside, Calif. out boxed the slower Neri Garcia (1-1) to win by unanimous decision, 40-36 all around. Flores bounced in-and-out of the pocket throughout the four round fight, doubling up the left hook, while covering up nicely when Garcia tried to go on the attack.
Opening the “Locked n’ Loaded” event was middleweights Louie Lopez (2-0, 1 KO) of Corona, Calif. and Jared Ejigu (0-3) of Pasadena, Calif. Lopez, standing at 5’9″, had a distinct size disadvantage compared to Ejigu’s 6’4″ frame.
The height difference, however, didn’t play a role, as Lopez was able to cut the distance and land strong shots to the head and body. The knockout never materialized, but Lopez did score a sweep of the scorecards (40-36 x3) to win by unanimous decision.
Thompson Boxing Promotions returns for its 18th Year Anniversary show on Friday, May 11 from the Doubletree Hotel in Ontario, Calif. A formal announcement is coming soon.