GLENDALE, Arizona – Alexandro Santiago knows he can’t afford to waste this opportunity.

The 26-year-old Mexican bantamweight contender has waited six years to get another shot at Antonio Nieves, who Santiago battled to a hard-fought 10-round split draw in August 2016. Anxious to move himself into realistic championship contention in the 118-pound division, Santiago has no intention of allowing judges to determine the winner of their 10-round rematch Saturday night on the Jake Paul-Anderson Silva undercard at Desert Diamond Arena.

“I’m a totally different fighter now from what I was six years ago,” Santiago told through a translator. “And this time, I’m not gonna leave any shadow of a doubt. I’m gonna knock him out. I don’t know what round, but I know I will knock him out.”

Tijuana’s Santiago (26-3-5, 13 KOs) took their first fight on three weeks’ notice. Santiago still defeated Cleveland’s Nieves (20-3-2, 11 KOs) on one scorecard, but lost on another card (96-94, 94-96, 95-95) in a 10-rounder Showtime televised as part of its prospect series, “ShoBox: The New Generation.”

“You know, when we fought six years ago, he was a last-minute opponent to the card we was fighting on, so I didn’t know much of [him],” Nieves said during a press conference Thursday at Desert Diamond Arena. “And the fight came into a draw, so now being here in this big event with Jake Paul, from my hometown, Cleveland, Ohio, you know, it means a lot to me cuz we’re definitely gonna – we already know what he does. He’s not a last-minute opponent, so it’s gonna be a better fight. And we’re looking for the victory.”

Nieves went on to challenge Japanese knockout artist Naoya Inoue for the WBO junior bantamweight championship a year after his draw with Santiago. Inoue (23-0, 20 KOs) dropped Nieves during the fifth round and Nieves’ handlers stopped their one-sided fight following the sixth round in September 2017 at StubHub Center in Carson, California.

Santiago settled for a 12-round split draw with former IBF 115-pound champion Jerwin Ancajas (33-3-2, 22 KOs) in the title shot he received after he faced Nieves. Four years later, Santiago hopes a decisive victory over Nieves propels him toward another championship chance, this time in the 118-pound division.

“I think that this is definitely gonna be a springboard for me to bigger and better opportunities,” Santiago said. “For example, an opportunity to fight for a world title. So, this Saturday night is when I get a chance to show the kind of quality fighter that I am, that I can be one of those top-tier fighters. We’ll see what happens, but I believe that I’m gonna put on a good show.”

Nieves-Santiago is one of five fights Showtime will televise as part of the Paul-Silva pay-per-view show (9 p.m. ET; $59.99). Most sportsbooks have established Santiago as a more than a 2-1 favorite to defeat Nieves.

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.