Alexis Santiago defeated Erik Ruiz by unanimous decision in a 10 round affair in the bantamweight division at the Sam’s Town Hotel & Gambling Hall in Las Vegas, Nevada. The bout was highly entertaining as both fighters aggressively pursued one another before entering into firefights with power shots used as exclamation points.
The bout, which was a Fox Sports1 broadcast, could be called the most entertaining “Toe to Toe Tuesday’s” main event of the year. It could be called one of the most entertaining televised fights in the early part of 2016—albeit with not that many other cards to consider only a month and a half into the new year and inside the shallowest portion of what was always a considerably shallow month to begin with, in February.
However, the most relative and significant statement that can and should be made has to do with the promotion. After all, it is as relevant as it is accurate to say that this was one of the most entertaining Mayweather Promotions cards ever produced. Sure, Mayweather Promotions has had some solid scraps in its existence, but under the retirement spotlight created by the company’s Founder and figurehead, Floyd Mayweather Jr., the cards have been mostly duds.
The interest from the media ties into the interest Mayweather Jr. could create after retirement. The question was and still is: Would Mayweather Promotions be more successful with Floyd retired and able to focus on promoting, or would a lack of interest be created now that Floyd isn’t competing inside the ring, thus taking away from his fighters the bright lights offered to them in the form of a Mayweather PPV undercard spot?
Santiago (21-3-1, 8KOs) certainly didn’t need a high profile card to make his TV appearance count as he battled with Ruiz in a fight not accurately represented by the judges’ wide margin scores of 100-90, 99-91, and 98-92.
The Phoenix, Arizona-born fighter turned Las Vegas resident for training purposes entered last night’s bout as one of the most unassuming fighters in the Mayweather Promotions’ stable. In fact, he is probably the least touted of all the other featured fighters, which is something to think about when you consider the talent that makes up that stable.
Santiago’s jab was a difference maker, but he made his shots count and was rarely out of his element. He controlled distance well, although some might argue that he got hit in the later rounds. But Santiago’s game isn’t to avoid punches at all costs. In fact, I’d say his game is almost the polar opposite of his promotional leader in Mayweather Jr.
Ruiz ate most of the offense coming at him, but he was unable to make anything of his own offense.
The two fighters stood in front of each other towards the end of the fight and gave fans some fun moments, but it was clear that Santiago was the better fighter and the clear talent.
It was a great performance with all things considered, and while no one would make the mistake of calling it a perfect outing or a flawless victory, you could argue that Santiago exceeded expectations, specifically the ones regarding the quality of the card and its main event.
That is what has to be taken away from the evening’s events. You look at Mayweather Promotions as an entity and you will see a lot of the same kind of fighters—not in style, per say, but in expectations and limitations. You see a bunch of guys all within the same kind of caliber or with roughly the same ceiling, and in both professional reach and financial practicality.
There are, of course, a couple standouts with real potential. And no one can undermine what Badou Jack has accomplished recently.
Still, Santiago offers a refreshing twist on Mayweather Promotions and the potential for some diversification, from a fan’s perspective. Santiago isn’t the boxer that we’ve come to expect from a Mayweather card, and that is a good thing. The kid can surely box, but he is willing to make an entertaining bout, and not out of necessity.
This is one fighter that Mayweather Promotions can bill as a “fun night out” for boxing fans. Not to mention, Santiago can be counted on when the promotion needs to sell a guaranteed exciting attraction.
As for his professional limitations, his first loss was in 2011 against Randy Caballero – a fighter with genuine skill and nothing to be ashamed of – but he has racked up a 10-fight win streak since suffering his last loss in 2012 against Roman Morales.
I’m sure Santiago can learn plenty if Floyd decides to take a more vested interest in the kid, but perhaps Floyd can learn something from Santiago, specifically the ability to remain successful despite a few losses on a fighter’s resume.