Giovani Santillan couldn’t ask for a better backdrop as he enters his optimal prime.

The hope is that it continues as he develops into a welterweight contender.

The unbeaten San Diego native fights in his home region for the third straight time, getting a true homecoming for his toughest test to date. Santillan faces undefeated Julio Luna (19-0-2, 10KOs) in a ten-round welterweight clash, airing live on ESPN from Pechanga Arena in San Diego.

“This is my second time in a year fighting in San Diego, third overall. It’s exciting to have my friends and family, and some relatives coming over from Tijuana,” Santillan told “I was thrilled when I got the news this fight would be here.”

It’s a familiar role for Santillan (29-0, 16KOs), who once again appears in supporting capacity on a show headlined by WBO featherweight titlist Emanuel Navarrete (35-1, 29KOs). The two were featured in separate bouts on an ESPN show from this very location last October, with Navarrete beating Joet Gonzalez via decision to defend his title.

Santillan added a win in between—an impressive seventh-round knockout of Jeovannis Barraza this past April in Costa Mesa, California. He steps up in class on Saturday, while Mexico’s Navarrete faces countryman and Mexicali native Eduardo Baez (21-2-2, 7KOs) in the main event.

“It’s smart that Top Rank is putting me and Navarrete together once again,” noted Santillan. He’s always in exciting fights. I’m always in exciting fights and improving in every fight.”

The 30-year-old southpaw is being groomed as a player in the welterweight division and a potential draw for Top Rank, who regularly stages events in the region. The fight will mark his fourth in fourteen months, enjoying a steady stream of activity at the most crucial stage of his career. The hope is for more to come, assuming all goes well on Saturday.

“I need to be active. It’s the best thing for me to stay active,” stated Santillan. “I can’t look too far ahead, first thing to deal with is this guy on Saturday.

“But with a win, I’d definitely love to get one more fight this year and maybe again right here.”

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for Twitter: @JakeNDaBox