LOS ANGELES – Santa Ana’s Alexis “Lex” Rocha and San Diego’s Giovani “Gallo de Oro” Santillan are both promising an all-action Southern California slugfest when the pair of welterweight upstarts meet in a twelve-round bout on October 21.
Rocha (23-1, 15 KOs) and Santillan (31-0, 16 KOs) will headline a DAZN card promoted by Golden Boy Promotions and presented in association with Top Rank at the Kia Forum in Los Angeles.
“It was very easy taking the fight. This is what it’s all about. I want to be the best and in order to be the best you have to fight one of the best and that's what Giovani Santillan presents,” Rocha said during a kickoff press conference held at Golden Boy headquarters.
"It takes a dedicated team to get where I'm at today. I feel that I've grown so much over time and now is my moment, and I want to keep just banging on the door for a world title. I know that Giovani is gonna be a good opponent. I'm not thinking about [undisputed welterweight champion Terence] Crawford. For me, this is a world title shot – this is a world title fight."
Rocha is the WBO’s No. 1 contender at 147 pounds and will be headlining a card for the third time this year. The 26-year-old southpaw beat George Ashie in January and Anthony Young in May.
“We respect each other,” said Rocha. “I feel like we are two of the same people. We're out to prove ourselves. We're fortunate that we are going to prove ourselves against each other and do the talking in the ring. He's going to bring it. I'm going to bring it. It's going to make a fan-friendly fight.”
The 31-year-old Santillan will present Rocha with yet another tough test in their evenly-matched fight.
In July, the Top Rank-promoted and WBO No. 4-ranked Santillan beat Erick Bone via unanimous decision.
"This is going to be an exciting fight, we're both Mexican fighters,” said Santillan. “You know, we have that Mexican blood inside of us, you know, and we're gonna come with that fire for sure."
Oscar De La Hoya believes Rocha is destined to soon be a world title challenger should he score a victory.
“Alexis Rocha is knocking on the door. Giovani has an amazing opportunity. So this is what boxing is all about,” said De La Hoya.
"I think that Alexis Rocha has proven that he belongs in this spot, that he has what it takes to become a world champion … But first thing is first, he has a very difficult tough opponent in front of him. I strongly feel that Giovani with his undefeated record is coming with everything, guns blazing."
Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist, writer, and broadcast reporter. He’s also a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and the MMA Journalists Association. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan, through email at manouk[dot]akopyan[at]gmail.com, or via www.ManoukAkopyan.com.