Giovani Santillan (32-0, 17 KOs) defied the odds to knock out fellow welterweight contender Alexis Rocha (23-2, 15 KOs) in the sixth round on October 21. The fight headlined a Golden Boy Promotions event at the Kia Forum in Inglewood, CA, and was broadcast by DAZN. Santillan’s win brings a renewed focus to the welterweight division, a weight class in which all four major titles are held by Terence Crawford (40-0, 31 KOs).
Following any boxing event, attention turns towards potential future opponents for the victor. Going into Saturday night, Santillan was ranked fifth by the WBO. Rocha held the #1 ranking and was in line to challenge for the WBO world title. However, Santillan’s victory now means that Rocha will lose that distinction. While a title fight may not be next for Santillan, he is now a significant contender at welterweight. Big Fight Weekend takes a look at three potential opponents for Santillan’s next fight.
Prior to his win over Rocha, Santillan had been fighting on Top Rank events. Another fighter affiliated with that company and ranked seventh at welterweight by the WBO is Josh Taylor (19-1, 13 KOs). This matchup would not be difficult to make as both men are with the same promotional group. Since both are also ranked by the WBO, a win for either would also get them closer to a world title shot. Santillan has also made clear his intention to face Taylor.
Currently ranked at #15 with the WBO, Ekow Essuman (19-0, 7 KOs) is another potential fighter Santillan could face. Essuman is also promoted by Queensberry Promotions, a company Top Rank has collaborated with on multiple occasions. At the moment, he is set to face Harry Scarff in Manchester, England, on November 18. A win over Scarff could potentially set up a clash with Santillan early next year. This fight would also help to further establish both fighters within the WBO.
In addition to being ranked with the WBO, Santillan is also #13 with the IBF. At #11 is former world title challenger David Avanesyan (29-4-1, 17 KOs). Should Santillan choose the IBF route instead, a clash with Avanesyan would further consolidate his standing within the organization. Like Essuman, Avanesyan has fought on events promoted by Queensberry Promotions. As he does not have a fight scheduled as of yet, working with Avanesyan could potentially be easy to make.