Wilkins santiago, lorain boxer shines in match

August 22, 2010 · Print This Article

wilkins-santiago1Shaun Bennet

Chronicle – Telegram writer

CLEVELAND – The bright lights and humid conditions under the tent at Nautica Pavilion did nothing to slow down Lorain middleweight Wilkins Santiago.

The fighter improved to 2-0 and picked up his first professional knockout when Matt Keglovic’s trainer, Casey Gasik, threw the towel into the ring two minutes into the second round.

“I caught him with a good right hook in the second round and I knew I was commanding him at that point,” Santiago said. “I saw the towel come flying in and knew it was over. It felt really good.”

Santiago said before the match that he knew Keglovic was an aggressive fighter and the Lorain boxer was content to counterpunch early in the opening round. But Santiago began to stun Keglovic with quick punches, and used several uppercuts to the body to slow his opponent.

“Every time I hit his guts, I could feel it in my fist,” Santiago said. “He took one big shot after another and just kept coming. I kind of said to myself during that first round that this guy was a warrior just like they said he was.”

Santiago abandoned his jab in the second round, as every power punch seemed to find its way to Keglovic’s face and midsection. Santiago continued to load up as the roar of the crowd kept him firing without pause.

“Those people are what allow me to keep steady with the power shots,” Santiago said. “I saw him folding little by little. I knew that slowly but surely he was going to lay down.”

But before Keglovic could be knocked down, Gasik tossed in the towel so that his fighter would take no more punishment.

“My coach saw something that I didn’t, I didn’t feel that I was getting hit that hard,” Keglovic said. “We fought his fight, not what we had worked on training for this fight.”

Keglovic conceded that his bull-rush style probably hurt him in Friday night’s fight, but he said it’s his style and he’d never change it.

“Normally, I get the best of them when I do that,” he said. “But it wasn’t my night. Wilkins is a hell of a fighter … I’d never take anything away from him.”

Santiago is hoping boxing fans begin to share Keglovic’s opinion.

“I want to show people what I can do,” Santiago said. “I’ve been boxing for a long time (as an amateur) and you get better every time you get in the ring. I want to show everyone that it’s my time.”

  • Akron’s Nick Firtha retained his NABA heavyweight championship belt with a 10-round majority decision over Mike Sheppard of Palenstine, W.Va., in the night’s main event. Firtha used a steady barrage of short jabs and hooks to the body to keep the crowd roaring, while Sheppard silenced the fans several times by connecting on powerful overhead right hooks. The judges scored the bout 97-93, 97-93 and 95-95 to help Firtha improve to 19-7-1. Sheppard dropped to 15-11-1.
  • In the six-round co-main event, Cleveland’s Dante Moore and Corey Rodriguez of St. Anthony, Minn., battled to a technical draw in their junior middleweight bout. Judge Mike Wick scored it 58-56 for Rodriguez, judge Earl Jewell had it 58-56 for Moore and judge Ben Rochester scored it 57-57. Moore (6-0-1 with four KOs) led early in the fight when his vicious hooks opened up a cut next to Rodriguez’s right eye. Rodriguez earned his points with a furious assault in the late rounds.
  • Cleveland’s Michael Moore improved to 3-0 by battering Indianapolis middleweight Eric Draper (1-4) through four rounds. Moore scored three knockdowns before referee George Nichols stopped the fight at 2:02 in the fourth and final round.
  • Heavyweights Jason Massie and Mujaheed Moor – both from Cleveland – traded punches through their four-round fight, but it was Massie improving to 6-0 with a unanimous decision. The judges scored the bout 40-36, 39-37 and 39-37. Moor dropped to 4-4

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