Tuesday, December 05, 2023  |



Giovanni Santillan and Jack Catterall score significant wins – each in their own way

Santillan dropped Rocha twice in Round 5. Photo: Golden Boy / Cris Esqueda
Fighters Network

This past weekend there were two significant boxing matchups several thousand miles apart with top 10 ramifications and potential future world title opportunities in their respective divisions.

One took place in Liverpool, England where Jack Catterall (28-1, 13 knockouts), The Ring’s No. 6-ranked junior welterweight, outboxed faded former three-division titleholder Jorge Linares (47-9, 29 KOs) to claim a 12-round unanimous decision.

The other saw rising star Alexis Rocha face unbeaten but largely unknown Giovanni Santillan. The second part is no longer the case as Santillan (32-0, 17 KOs) bludgeoned Rocha (23-2, 15 KOs) to the canvas three times to score an eye-opening sixth round stoppage.  Rocha, who entered as The Ring’s No. 5-rated welterweight will drop down if not out of the ratings, while the San Diego native will enter.

While one guy boxed well but within himself and put on a workmanlike display, the other blew the doors down and sent a clear message to his division.

Santillan has been a professional for a decade and remained unbeaten. However, while a solid practioner, he’s been more steady than spectacular, never able to separate himself from the crowd.

The Top Rank fighter took himself over to a Golden Boy show and made the absolute most of his big chance blitzing Rocha, who was also the WBO No. 1 contender.

“I needed to get this win to get big fights in the future,” said Santillan.

The win, a career best, will see the 31-year-old well positioned if Terence Crawford vacates his cadre of welterweight titles or looks to defend them.

Jack Catterall (left) vs. Jorge Linares. Photo / @MatchroomBoxing

The same can’t quite be said for Catterall. It was a very solid performance, he did all the right things but when the opportunity was there at the end of Round 5, or early the sixth round to step on the gas and take out Linares, he didn’t do it. Even in the second half of the fight Catterall didn’t step up his attack and look to make a statement.

It’s nothing against Catterall, it’s more that the junior welterweight division is rather crowded and a solid performance doesn’t really advance him and seems more of a treading water exercise. Maybe Catterall, who clearly had the upmost respect for Linares, needs that edge to bring out his best.

It gives the other top 140-pounders in the world an excuse not to face him. Afterall, it says here nobody at junior welterweight has an easy times with Catterall.

Catterall and his promoter Eddie Hearn were both vocal afterwards about facing Josh Taylor in a rematch after their controversial first go around in February 2022.

The 30-year-old Brit told DAZN moments after his win: “[Josh] Taylor, where are you? Shithouse!”

There is real discord between both fighters and whether they could resume hostilities is unknown at this point but it would make sense for both. Taylor is the bigger name but didn’t look good in that fight and has since lost to Teofimo Lopez. The question is does he want to do it after losing his unbeaten record?

The other target you’d think would be the winner of WBC titlist Regis Prograis-Devin Haney, who also both happen to also work with Matchroom.

It’s a reminder that while a win is the aim of the game, how you do it matters. It leaves the viewer wanting more and looking forward to seeing a particular boxer fight again.

Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected].