Jovanie Santiago didn’t need to be the first opponent under consideration to next face Adrien Broner.
All that matters is that he was the one to receive the final call.
The unbeaten junior welterweight from Dorado, Puerto Rico steps well up in class to face Cincinnati’s Broner (33-4-1, 24KOs), a former four-division titlist who returns to the ring for the first time in more than two years. Santiago replaces Mexico’s Pedro Campa, who tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this year in having to withdraw from this Saturday’s show, which airs live on Showtime from Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.
“It is a great opportunity that every boxer wants,” Santiago told BoxingScene.com. “It is now my turn and I’m going to make the most of it.”
Santiago (14-0-1, 10KOs) was one of several fighters to replace Campa and arguably the least established among such a list. Having been out of the ring since a lopsided points loss to Manny Pacquiao in January 2019 and having not won a fight in four years, it’s easy to understand why Broner’s handlers would seek out an opponent representing the best shot at getting the still-relevant boxer back in the win column.
To his credit, Broner has been deep in training camp throughout the holidays and well into the new year in preparation for this weekend’s main event. That is music to Santiago’s ears, as all he asks for is the best available version of his biggest challenge to date.
“I don’t know how he will come for the fight but I have trained for the best version of him,” insists Santiago, who is coming off of a 1st round knockout of unbeaten Juan Zegarra last December in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. “He wants to use me to return to the top but I will not let that happen. Facing me will be the great challenge for him too.
“He has everything to lose and the pressure is on him. I’m a fighter who likes to apply a lot of pressure in the whole fight. I can’t wait.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox