Sport

Santisima-Navarrete tipped to end in KO

Santisima-Navarrete tipped to end in KO

MANILA, Philippines — ALA Boxing CEO Michael Aldeguer expects a knockout ending in the WBO superbantamweight title fight between defending champion Emanuel Navarrete of Mexico and Filipino challenger Jeo Santisima in the undercard of the main event featuring heavyweights Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas this morning (Manila time).

“The fight will end in a knockout as both are punchers,” said Aldeguer who is in Las Vegas to witness the proceedings. “If not, then it should be an entertaining fight. Jeo is a come forward type of fighter but he knows he can’t do that to Navarrete. Hopefully, he doesn’t get awed by the Vegas atmosphere.”

Navarrete and Santisima both tipped the scales at the superbantamweight limit of 122 pounds at the weigh-in last Friday afternoon (yesterday morning, Manila time). Fans packed the MGM venue for the weigh-in, anticipating an eruption when Wilder and Fury checked in. But the Nevada State Athletic Commission averted the confrontation by deciding against a face-off “for fear of possible hostilities”

Aldeguer said Santisima was “calm” during the weigh-in. “He made weight exactly at 122, same as Navarrete,” said Aldeguer. “Big crowd for the weigh-in. If Jeo doesn’t back down, it’ll be a helluva of a fight as both fighters like to come in. Just hoping Jeo won’t be in awe with the lights, cameras, crowd and just being in a spectacular atmosphere which he has not experienced yet.”

It’s Santisima’s first fight overseas and his chance of a lifetime comes with a Mexican hero on the opposite corner. Navarrete, 25, is heavily favored to post his fifth successful title defense but Santisima, 23, isn’t fazed by the odds. The Mexican enjoys a 4 1/2 inch advantage in reach and is an inch taller at 5-7. Santisima’s record is 19-2, with 16 KOs, while Navarrete boasts a 30-1 slate, with 26 KOs.

Los Angeles-based Dr. Ed de la Vega will join Santisima’s corner as cutman. Others in the corner will be ALA head trainer Edito Villamor, chief second Michael Domingo and strength/conditioning coach Nick Curson.

De la Vega said Navarrete will pay a hefty price if he takes Santisima lightly. “I think it will be a tough fight for Santisima but if Navarrete looks past him, he may end up staring at the lights with his back on the canvas,” said De la Vega. “Team Santisima is in high spirits. They’re realistic as well and they know the task ahead is not lined by a bed of roses. But Santisima is promising he will give his all to win the fight. Santisima’s inspiration is Manny Pacquiao’s upset win over Lehlo Ledwaba in the same Vegas venue in 2001.”

De la Vega, a dentist, produced a new mouthguard in orange and gold for Santisima. “He requested for a mouthguard with his favorite colors,” said De la Vega. “That’s exactly what we did for him. It took us all of three hours to get it done. He came to my office to pick up the mouthguard last Saturday. Edito told me it’s a long-established tradition for ALA boxers to get the ‘Mouthguard for Champions’ when they fight in the US. There’s no guarantee to win using the mouthguard but there’s a guarantee the boxer will be well protected.”

The referee will be Russel Mora of Las Vegas with Patricia Morse Jarman of Las Vegas, Don Trella of Connecticut and Julie Lederman of New York as judges.

De la Vega said Santisima has everything to gain and nothing to lose. “Navarrete and Santisima are staking their lives to entertain the fans much like the main event fighters,” he said. “The risk they’re taking is the same. Navarrete has blown away all his previous challengers and Santisima is not a known name in Vegas, at least not yet. Many predict he will go the same way, not considering that one should never underestimate a hungry young lion like Santisima.”

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