Undefeated junior welterweight Giovani Santillan (15-0, 8 KOs), one of Thompson Boxing Promotions’ most promising prospects, headlines “Path to Glory,” this Friday, Feb. 20, from the Doubletree Hotel in Ontario, Calif. Santillan, a San Diego native, faces Eduardo Rivera (9-1-2, 3 KOs) of Mazatlan, Mex. in the 8-round main event.
Eduardo Rivera, the man opposite you in the main event, what do you know about him?
“I saw some video of his last fight. He’s a good fighter, but it’s not anything that I haven’t seen or experienced before. We do a good job of sparring with a lot of different styles in San Diego and Los Angeles so I’m always ready for anything.
What can fans and ringside media expect from you on Friday night?
“I plan to show everyone why I’m in the main event of “Path to Glory.” I’m going to take control of the ring and let him know who I am. I’m not going to wait. I’m going right at him from the start and give the fans what they want.
This marks your third time headlining a Thompson Boxing card. Are you getting used to it, being the main attraction?
We’re getting really comfortable being featured as the main event, but every fight on every fight card is important because everyone is fighting to get to this point.
Last year you won four fights, fought better competition, and captured a vacant regional title. Talk about how you grew as a boxer.
“It was an excellent year for me. The biggest growth came by just experiencing high level competition in an eight round format. All four fights were scheduled for eight rounds, which just being in that element made me a stronger boxer. It prepared me for the next phase in my development. Overall I got better from the year before which is what we’re always trying to do. Always trying to get better.
And without a doubt, the icing on the cake was winning the NABF Junior title in San Diego, in front of my hometown fans. I’ll never forget that moment.
After taking long strides in 2014, what are the goals for this year?
“We’ve talked about making the jump to ten round fights this year. With the step up in rounds, also comes a step up in competition. Once we know we’re ready to take that next step, we’ll do it.”
How do you spend your “off months” when you don’t have a fight secured?
“We never really stop training. I mean we dial it down a little bit, but we’re always in the gym and we stay focused on getting better. When I have time off, it’s not about relaxing. You look at all the greats in this sport, or any sport for that matter- it could be soccer, basketball, golf, whatever. The truly great ones use the free time they have to get better and make improvements. That’s what I do. I make improvements and work toward getting better during my time off.
You’ve taken the term gym rat to a new level. Not only are you constantly in the gym working on your game, but you also work as a boxing instructor at three different San Diego gyms.
“I love the sport. It really is just another way to stay connected to it. I teach what I know. I don’t pretend to know everything, but I do try to stress technique and fundamentals. For the kids (ages 7-15) you have to make it fun for them. It’s a great place for them to be as opposed to being unsupervised and getting into trouble. For the 18+ classes, it’s more about going through the cardio that’s involved in boxing. The older group uses boxing for the cardiovascular benefits.