Spotlight on | Boxing

Impressive Angelo Santana steps up on Shobox


Coming up

Friday (9 p.m., ESPN2): Rico Ramos vs. Oscar Gonzalez, 10, featherweights.

Friday (11 p.m., Showtime): Angelo Santana vs. Bahodir Mamadjonov, 12, lightweights.

Saturday (11 p.m., HBO): Nonito Donaire vs. Guillermo Rigondeaux, 12, for the unified WBA and WBO junior-featherweight titles.

Special to The Miami Herald

All it took was one impressive performance for Angelo Santana to land another appearance on Showtime.

Santana, a Miami resident, won over Showtime executives in his first fight on the network in November. An expected difficult fight against a fellow unbeaten fighter turned into a crowd-pleasing knockout win and additional exposure for Santana.

As a result of Santana’s fifth-round knockout of Juan Garcia, Showtime booked the native of Cuba for another bout on the network’s Shobox series Friday night. Santana will face Bahodir Mamadjonov of Uzbekistan for a second-tier world lightweight belt at the Treasure Island Casino in Las Vegas.

“I was thankful for having that opportunity in November,” Santana said. “Now more people know about me, and writers are paying more attention.”

Santana (14-0, 11 KOs) provides a quality that appeals to fans and TV networks. Blessed with the enviable mix of speed and punching power, Santana can end a fight on one shot or a flurry of combinations.

Garcia expected to neutralize Santana with his height and reach until Santana floored him with a devastating left to the head in the second round of their bout.

The knockdown kept Garcia on the defensive until Santana finished him with two additional knockdowns three rounds later.

“I take my time in the ring. I’m not going in there careless and try to impress,” Santana said. “I concentrate on my job and let the pace of the fight and circumstances determine how I will respond.”

Santana will have his first scheduled 12-round bout against Mamadjonov, a late replacement Carlos Cardenas, who withdrew because of a shoulder injury.

“My plan is to box 12 rounds,” Santana said. “If the knockout happens, then I will pursue it.”

Santana, who turns 25 on April 19, is content with the pace of his career after he turned professional five years ago.

Promoted by Don King, Santana looks forward to making a lasting impact in the lightweight division before moving to higher weight classes.

“I like the 135-pound division, and I’m impressed with its very good talent,” Santana said. “Without question, the competition is tough, but that is why you compete as an athlete. You prepare hard to succeed against the best.”

Not lost in Santana’s thoughts during the buildup to his fight Friday is the noticeable presence of Miami-based and Cuba-born fighters in the weekend’s top bouts.

On Saturday night, Santana’s countryman and fellow Miami resident, Guillermo Rigondeaux, will face Nonito Donaire in a junior-featherweight world title unification fight at Radio City Music Hall in New York. The Rigondeaux-Nonaire bout will be televised by HBO.

Santana and Rigondeaux, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, became friends when both fighters were trained by Jorge Rubio. Although Rubio still trains Santana, Pedro Diaz now guides Rigondeaux.

“This will be a very important weekend for Cuban boxers and the city of Miami,” Santana said. “We have an opportunity to showcase our talents on two important television networks. The expectations are high and with God’s help, we will both succeed.”

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