Jovanie Santiago didn’t walk away with the verdict he wanted but has come to garner the respect he feels he has long deserved.
A quick turnaround is in store for the 31-year-old Boricua, who fights for the third time in just over five months. Santiago faces undefeated Gary Antuanne Russell in a dangerous junior welterweight clash this Saturday, airing live on Showtime just three months after suffering a disputed 12-round points loss to Adrien Broner on the network this past February.
“I’m very grateful to be back on Showtime so quickly,” Santiago told BoxingScene.com of this weekend’s showdown with Russell. “When I went back to my dressing room right after my fight with Adrien Broner, I was told that I’ll be fighting soon because (Showtime personnel) liked what they saw.”
Santiago (14-1-1, 10KOs) was undefeated but largely unknown when he entered his February 20 bout with Broner, a former four-division titlist who hadn’t fought in more than two years. The fight took place at welterweight, at the demand of Broner and which saw Santiago weigh 145 ¼ pounds, his heaviest weight in more than five years. It didn’t sap his performance, significantly outworking Broner only to not gain favor with the three ringside judges who were unanimous in their scoring for Santiago’s more celebrated opponent.
Still, it was enough for Santiago to remain at this level. That decision came with his agreeing to face Russell (13-0, 13KOs), who hails from a boxing family. The 24-year-old southpaw from the greater Washington D.C. area is the younger brother of long-reigning WBC featherweight titlist Gary Russell Jr. and aiming to make a name for himself.
Santiago gladly welcomes the challenge—and any other that will allow him to remain in the spotlight.
“Working hard for so many years has given me this chance to shine again,” notes Santiago. “You know what happened in my last fight. I will continue to prove that I belong on the big stage.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox