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Roy Jones Jr-Danny Santiago fight is "Officially Off"
By Andy Marks
Danny Santiago's “dream fight” with boxing legend Roy Jones Jr. is off, and the Ocala-based boxer isn't happy about it.
Santiago, a veteran professional fighter and local business owner, was under contract to fight Jones in Pensacola on Oct. 7, a date Jones postponed at the last minute citing a hand injury. Now, after more than a month in limbo, the fight is “officially off,” according to Santiago.
After more than two months of training , the 37-year-old Lake Weir High School graduate is left with no fight plans. The turn of events has left Santiago doubting the validity of Jones' injury.
“I believe in my heart of hearts that there was nothing wrong with his hand,” Santiago said. “Maybe it was a business decision. Maybe the tickets weren't going great. I'm not going to totally say I think he was afraid, because I don't think he's afraid of anybody. I just think he underestimated me and then he realized how seriously I was taking this. … He figured he needed more time, that I might be too dangerous for him.”
Santiago is coming off what he has described as the best training camp of his life in South Florida, where he worked alongside noted boxers such as Lucian Bute and Glenn Johnson. He said that when the Pensacola fight date fell through, he and his Ocala representation put together another package to fight Jones in Daytona Beach instead, which Jones rejected.
“He was going to make maybe triple what he was going to make over in Pensacola, and he balked at it,” Santiago said. “So I really don't know what the situation is. All I know is I was ready, willing and able to do whatever.”
Jones, 41, was for more than a decade thought of as the mythical pound-for-pound best boxer in the world and arguably boxing's biggest star along with Oscar De la Hoya. His signature wins included title fights against Bernard Hopkins, James Toney and Montell Griffin, but his results have suffered of late with two straight ugly losses and three losses in his last five.
His fight with Santiago was initially thought to be a candidate for an ESPN broadcast, but that aspect of the deal never materialized.
Santiago said he lost all hope of a fight with Jones after Jones appeared on an HBO Boxing broadcast as an analyst Saturday.
“I was totally disgusted,” Santiago said. “He looked overweight. There was nothing wrong with his hand. He was holding the microphone with the hand that he said he hurt with no problem. He seemed fine to me.”
It left Santiago believing he was being ducked by the boxing icon.
“He took me on because I have a great record and he figured I'd be an easy opponent,” he said. “When he found out I was doing my thing, training really hard and raising it to another level, he had second thoughts.”
Jones' promotional company, Square Ring Promotions, did not respond to e-mail requests from the Star-Banner seeking comment.
Santiago said he's exploring the possibility of legal action.
“We do have a standing contract and we're looking at it right now,” he said. “There was a lot of money invested in this thing, in the training expenses and stuff like that. The only way I could (recover the money) is by going into the fight.”
Though it appears the fight will never happen, Santiago said he has no doubt about what the outcome would have been.
“I was going to go in there,” he said, “and I was going to beat the one and only Roy Jones.”
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