Angelo Santana’s first TV audition earned him rave reviews and additional clout in the lightweight division.
Santana, a Cuba native and Hialeah resident, knocked out Juan Garcia in the fifth round of their main event bout that headlined a show late Friday at Gulfstream Park. The fight also was televised by Showtime, providing Santana a platform to display his crowd-pleasing skills.
“When the fight started I felt nervous, I needed a few minutes to compose myself,” Santana said.
The taller Garcia, of Holland, Mich., had a productive first round, when he landed rights to the head. But Santana turned the fight's tide in the second round, dropping Garcia to the canvas with a straight left to the head.
Santana (14-0, 11 KOs) continued to outpoint Garcia (13-1) the next two rounds with quick lefts to the head and opened a cut to the side of Garcia’s right eye.
Midway through the fifth, Santana found another opening and floored Garcia again with a right-left combination to the head. A tiring Garcia reached his feet before the 10-count but Santana immediately pressed him toward the ropes and knocked him out cold with a left to the head. Referee Frank Gentile waved the 10-count and ended the fight at 1:41 of the round.
“He was a strong opponent but I wanted to prove I could knock anybody out,” Santana said. “I was waiting for him to gain some confidence because he’s taller. Once he came in, I was able to unload with my left.”
Miami’s Joey Hernandez also capitalized on his Showtime appearance and won a convincing decision against James Winchester in their junior-middleweight bout preceding the Santana-Garcia fight.
Hernandez (23-1-1) sent Winchester to the canvas with two lefts to the head in the fourth round for the fight’s only knockdown. Hernandez was effective with rights to the body midway thought the bout and was intent on trading at short range with the cagey Winchester (15-6) as the fight progressed into the late rounds.
Although Hernandez was deducted a point for hitting after the break in the third round, he built a sufficient lead to win the fight, 97-91 on two judges’ scorecards. The third judge also scored it for Hernandez, 96-94.
“He was a tough guy, he gave me good rounds,” Hernandez said. “I would have liked to have thrown more combinations but he often led with his head so I was being mindful (of head butts).
“I did what I wanted to do and now it’s on to bigger and better things.”
Earlier, heavyweight Trevor Bryan remained unbeaten with a third-round knockout win over Hassan Lee.
Bryan (5-0, 4 KOs) wasted little in proving his dominance against the outclassed Lee (4-3). Using a lead left jab to the head, Bryan eventually opened up his arsenal and stunned Lee, of Philadelphia, with a left hook to the head late in the first round.
Bryan followed with four unanswered shots to the head that sent Lee between the ropes and forced referee Frank Gentile to rule a knockdown.
In the second, Bryan continued to land effectively to the head. A tiring Lee failed to counter or clinch to avoid Bryan’s aggression.
Midway through the third, Bryan landed a punch that ended the fight and can enhance a heavyweight’s profile. Bryan connected with a flush right to the side of Lee’s head. Lee’s legs crumbled awkwardly, falling head first to the canvas. Gentile didn’t bother to count and ended the fight at 1:45 of the round.
“When I caught him I knew he wasn’t going to get up,” Bryan said. “The jab set up everything for me. I took my time and then found my openings.”
In other bouts: heavyweight Oleg Platov knocked out Harold Sconiers at 1:46 of the second round and Amir Iman scored a technical knockout over Anthony Walker at 2:59 of the second round.