Alexis Rocha takes on Giovani Santillan in this Saturday’s DAZN (Oct. 21, 8 pm ET) main event
Scott Christ (85-33)
Good matchup! Really might be a very good fight! A little hard to get excited about because it doesn’t have a big name and isn’t, like, some probably absolute banger, but then again, Golden Boy’s had some absolute bangers in fights like this in 2023 — OK, I just got myself excited about this fight. I’m a good salesman if the customer is me.
As I’ve said, both these dudes have needed a good opponent, and now they have one in each other. Basically the winner is a top 10 guy at 147, and the loser ... uh, might be a top 10 guy at 147 is Bud Crawford vacates and he and Spence both leave the division officially.
Going with Rocha by a hair, but think it’ll be tough. Santillan has a lot of toughness and Rocha isn’t, like, the biggest puncher in the world, but I think Alexis will get the better of enough rounds, basically. No outcome here would surprise other than maybe a total physical domination, a one-sided fight that ends inside seven or something. A real beatdown. That would surprise (and impress) me. Rocha SD-12
Wil Esco (95-23)
Personally, I think the younger and fresher Rocha has the edge in this matchup with Santillan and while I think he wins it, I think he has to do it the hard way in a battle that lasts the distance.
In doing so I expect Santillan will have a few moments of success because of Rocha’s leaky defense at times, but will otherwise be put on more of the defensive by Rocha’s power punching and pressure attack. Santillan likes to come forward and mix things up too, so there should be some fun exchanges, but I have him coming up short on the cards. Rocha UD-12
John Hansen (84-34)
Giovani Santillan is the Arnold Barboza of Alexis Rochas. Top Rank guy, always handling his business every few months on prelims and undercards against whoever answers the call. And after a few years of tallying wins, right in the mix, and knocking on the door of his division’s top 10.
It’s satisfying that two guys who weren’t golden path prospects can still find a path to this point, even in a crowded division like welterweight. And this is a tough matchup to pick. Lots of similarities, similar questions about previous opponent levels, neither guy has gone too long since or had too much trouble with fighting a fellow lefty. Yes, Rocha has a blemish on his record, but he bounced back from his only loss (at age 23!) and has truly learned and improved from the setback. And I don’t think we’ve seen Santillan face an opponent as good as Rashidi Ellis.
I think both guys are sturdy and defensively responsible enough that we won’t see a knockout or stoppage. And while I think Santillan is a very live underdog, I have to go with Rocha Prime, the Platonic ideal, the one true Alexis Rocha, to claim the decision. Rocha UD-12
Patrick Stumberg (91-27)
It really is a shame that Santillan can’t punch. He’s got the grit and he’s got the infighting craft, but as we saw against Bone, there’s only so much you can do in the pocket when you can’t keep your opponent honest. If the Bone fight is any indication, slugging it out with Santillan is a viable path to victory, one that Rocha is more than equipped to take.
Rocha still needs to work on his jab, head movement, and tendencies to load up and/or smother his work if he wants to be champion material. Luckily for him, Santillan looks happy to meet him head on in the sort of close-quarters slugfest where Rocha shines. Rocha’s too big and too powerful for Santillan to overpower and I’m not convinced Santillan has the footwork to play keep-away like Ellis did. Superior horsepower carries Rocha to victory in a banger. Rocha TKO-11
Jack Catterall vs Jorge Linares
DAZN, Oct. 21, 2 pm ET
- Scott: Linares UD-12
- Wil: Catterall UD-12
- John: Catterall UD-12
- Patrick: Catterall UD-12