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Alexis Santiago Talks R. Mayweather, Career, Rigondeaux

By Chris Robinson

If you stop by the Mayweather Boxing Club in Las Vegas these days, you will spot a new face on the scene.

Once-beaten bantamweight prospect Alexis Santiago is working ardently under the eye of trainer Roger Mayweather as he eyes a return to the ring in the first quarter of 2012. Santiago took up an interest in the sport at the age of fifteen and as a professional he has been gaining valuable experience by testing himself against a bevy of world-class pugilists in sparring and he is already a great fit at Floyd’s personal gym.

I recently caught up with Santiago to get a feel for what his professional career has encompassed thus far.

In his own words, this is what Santiago had to say about training with Roger Mayweather, sparring the likes of Nonito Donaire, Guillermo Rigondeaux, Rodel Mayol, and others, why he feels his loss to Randy Caballero was unjust, and much more…

In trouble…

“I was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, on the East side of Phoenix. Growing up it was pretty much being in trouble the whole time. Fighting a lot. I got kicked out of school and everything. Boxing was actually a thing that helped me in life. It’s been helping me out a lot.”

Word from the barbershop…

“I always used to like fighting a lot and every time I used to go to my barber shop in Phoenix, some guy, the one who used to cut my hair, he said ‘Since you fight a lot, why don’t you just go to the gym?’. There was a gym a block away from my house and he always kept telling me and I went one day, my brother took me. I got off and said I wanted to train and the trainer said ‘Ok’, so I said I would come back in a week but he said ‘What are you talking about? If you want to train, you stay and train right now’. So he made me stay there, exactly how I was dressed, in my school clothes. And from the first day I actually enjoyed boxing. I was barely turning fifteen at the time.”

Taking something from his favorites…

“I like to get a little bit from every fighter that I like. I like Mayweather, I like Cotto, I like De La Hoya when he was younger. I like all kinds of different fighters, so I try to get a little bit from everybody and try to use it in my style. That way if one style isn’t working, I have another style that I actually use.”

Early professional seasoning…

“It’s been pretty good. I’ve been trying to get not just easy fights, but I’m trying to step up every time. I don’t want to just have easy fights. I’ve trying to step up my competition every other fight. I’ve been working with world champions. I’ve sparred with Guillermo Rigondeaux, Celestino Caballero, Nonito Donaire, Rodel Mayol, Eden Sonsona, and I’ve had a lot of different experiences with world champions. I sparred different world champions so I get a lot of experience from it.”

Hitting up the Wild Card in Los Angeles…

“It was probably a year and a half ago. A couple times I would go and my friend was over there, [Jose] Benavidez. Andit’s a great atmosphere in there. The vibe is great. Everybody is working hard in there. There are world champions that come in every day. I enjoyed being there. You can go in there and just spar different world champions. I went a couple of times when he was over there. I would spar different fighters all the time.”

Going toe to toe with Rodel Mayol…

“It was good. He’s a strong fighter and I actually did good with him. If I remember right I think I dropped him in the third round and everybody was like ‘Wow’. It was a great experience. I learned different things from them.”

Relocating to Las Vegas to push his career forward…

“In Arizona, the boxing is good, but not as good as you would want it to be. I decided I needed to move on if I wanted to do something good with my career. I needed to move on and look for something better. I moved over and I’ve been getting great work with Roger Mayweather. I think I’ve been improving a lot more over here and I’ve been getting to spar with a lot more fighters. It’s a good thing being over here.”

Crossing paths with Nonito Donaire…

“The first time I got here was a little more than two months ago. It was the week that Floyd was going to fight. So I came over here and I talked to Roger outside and I told him that I came over here from Arizona and asked if he could work with him and he said ‘Yeah’ and to come the following week. I came but it was so busy but I wanted to keep working out so I went over to the H.I.T. Factory with Morris East and I was working with him that week. It was really good working with Morris and he got my number and that if I ever needed anything, he would give me a call. When I was over here he gave me a call and said that Nonito was over there and asked if I wanted to spar. So he called me and I sparred him and we did about four rounds. It was great sparring actually. Nonito liked it and I think I am going to be working with him for his next fight.”

Surprising against Guillermo Rigondeaux…

“Guillermo Rigondeaux, I sparred him also when I went to the Wild Card. He’s a great fighter, very defense, and I did good. I did great, actually. As soon as I got there they asked me if I wanted to spar Guillermo and I said ‘Yeah’. And they thought I wouldn’t last with him. The first day I went six rounds with him and everybody was surprised. I ended up sparring him the next day also. I think I sparred him like three times over there.”

Learning from Roger Mayweather…

“Roger is teaching me more defense. How to work more, not just on top, but to work the body, to tire somebody down and box them. I’ve just been working and he’s been teaching me a whole different style. I can box, I can fight inside, but I also got to use my defense. Not just stay in my pocket the whole time.”

Eyeing the next move…

“I was supposed to fight in January but the fight got back moved back to February. So I’ll be fighting February 10th and it’s looking I will also be fighting around March also. In Phoenix, Arizona. Right now I don’t have a promoter so I’ve been getting fighters from promoters in Phoenix. So I get to fight almost every month and it’s been helping me a lot.”

Reflecting on his lone loss to Randy Caballero…

“I learned a lot about that loss. I fought Randy Caballero in Coachella, California, in his hometown. They gave him a unanimous decision, which was retarded. Everybody knew that was a dumb decision. Even people in California were telling me that I won the fight.  A lot of the people me that I won the fight. It was a good experience, I learned a lot from it. I learned a lot from it and now I know not to just go and fight in their place. Because they’re not going to give you a fair shake. It was a great fight. We went all the rounds. He thought he was going to knock me out but I didn’t think he was a power puncher at all. I didn’t think he was strong or anything but it was a great fight.”

[Reader's note: Visit the following slideshows for a look back on 2011 with boxing's biggest stars Nonito Donaire / Juan Manuel Marquez / Victor Ortiz ]

Chris Robinson is based out of Las Vegas, Nevada. He can be reached at [email protected] . Please follow him at www.Twitter.com/CRHarmony
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