|The Cyber Boxing Zone Newswire -- MAY 4:2001|
Santana Set to Surprise Casamayor|
By JD Vena
In summarizing 2001 thus far, I think it would suffice to say that it be dubbed "The Year of the Upset." We're in May now and so far we've had Ruiz over Holyfield, Barrera beating Hamed, Rahman starching Lewis and even more recently, someone named Carlos Borjoquez stopping Pernell Whitaker. No disrespect towards Borjoquez, but even at the tender age of 37, you wouldn't expect Whitaker to falter to someone the caliber of Borjoquez. That's why it might not be too shocking to those who have followed the respectable but unheralded career of Edwin Santana, that an upset could be in the making when he challenges WBA jr. lightweight champion, Joel Casamayor Saturday night at the Silver Star Casino in Philadelphia, MS. It's shocking enough that the little Lawrence native; a natural featherweight is even getting a shot at the budding Cuban titlist.
"I'm very surprised," said Santana of his opportunity that will be televised by Showtime. "My last few fights haven't been with contenders. They weren't televised and I didn't look too good."
Though Santana has gone 3-0-2 since losing to Ben Tackie in August of '98, that's not to say that he isn't qualified to face Casamayor. In fact, Santana has been in with a better share of world class opposition than Casamayor. In 1996, Santana, who was then unbeaten took on Rafael Meran, who was rated #7 by the WBC at the time. According to Mel Peabody, Santana's esteemed manager/trainer, Santana "beat the hell out of him over 10 rounds." The win catapulted Santana to a minor league title shot (the IBA) against a major leaguer by the name of Kevin Kelley, arguably one of the finest featherweights of the past 10 years. Santana was thoroughly dominated by the veteran former champion over 12 rounds, but the painful clinic administered by Kelley was a rewarding experience for Santana.
"I was in great shape for that fight," recalls Santana. "But I wasn't totally there as far as my confidence and focus. In the fourth round he broke my nose, but I continued to fight and I stayed with him for 8 more rounds. For me, that fight told me that I belonged with the best and that one day I could win a championship."
In his next fight against former bantamweight king, Orlando Canizales, Santana proved to everyone but the three ringside judges that he could become world champion dropping a disputed decision. The obstacle however, wasn't enough to sideswipe Santana's drive. Unable to secure a name opponent at featherweight, Sanatana bumped himself up to jr. lightweight and was paired with Ghana's Ben Tackie, now a formidable jr. welterweight contender who dynamite packed in his fists. For nearly 10 rounds, those destructive fists couldn't find the slippery Santana until the explosive right hand put Santana to sleep in the final stanza.
"He was winning the fight easy, until that shot landed," said Peabody.
From that moment on, Santana's once promising career sunk into obscurity and the search for name opponents became more laboring for Team Santana than his grueling affair with Kelley. That's why no one was more bewildered than Santana and his handlers when they received the phone call from America Presents, Casamayor's promotional branch. Santana and Peabody on the other hand have more surprises in store for Casamayor.
"Even though we don't truly deserve this opportunity, we are ready to win this title," said Peabody. "The ironic part about this whole thing is that I has a friend out in Vegas watching (Casamayor) train every day and telling me what's going on his camp. He tells me how many rounds he's sparring and who he's sparring with. He even talks to Casamayor and asks him how he's going to fight Edwin," said Peabody. "They don't even know that he's going to be working the corner with us Saturday night."
Peabody knows that his charge is in for a rough fight against the 24-0 (15 KO's) champion, but he and Santana don't revere Casamayor to be the complete sell that America Presents and others have tried to push.
"Edwin and I watched tapes of Casamayor over and over again and I've never seen him throw a hook," said Peabody. "He'll go an entire fight without throwing one. He's got that amateur style of pumping the straight punches and throwing the uppercuts on the inside. I got Edwin moving to his left because from what we've seen, Edwin isn't going to move into one and get that double impact."
Whether Santana runs into a left hook or not, the 30 year old veteran who lived in Santo Domingo, in the Dominican Republic for his first thirteen years, knows that running away with Casamayor's world title is an extreme possibility. As Norman Stone, the manager of WBA heavyweight champion, John "The Quiet Man" Ruiz said, "Boxing is all about yesterday's nobody becoming today's somebody," Santana is especially confident in becoming Massachusetts's next world champion. Such a feat would be the first time since 1955 that two men from Massachusetts held two championships simultaneously. Not since the state's glory days when Rocky Marciano (at heavyweight) and Tony DeMarco (at welterweight) owned undisputed world championships would there be such an achievement for a state that has slumped in the professional ranks for several years. Who knows, with what's been going on in boxing this year, even the Red Sox have a shot. Nah, I'll take Santana over Casamayor first.
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