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Champ cites Jeo’s heart

By Joaquin Henson
PhilBoxing.com
Wed, 26 Feb 2020



WBO superbantamweight champion Emanuel Navarrete applauded Filipino challenger Jeo Santisima’s courage in absorbing heavy punishment but never going down as the Mexican retained his title via an 11th round stoppage at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas last Saturday night.

“It took me a little more time than expected,” said Navarrete, quoted by ESPN’s Dan Rafael. “I hurt him a couple of times during the fight but I got to give it to him. He’s a real Filipino warrior. He took a lot of punches but didn’t go down.” Santisima hailed Navarrete as “a great champion” and said, “I gave it my all to bring a world title back to the Philippines … I came up short but I can hold my head high.”

Santisima, 23, fought proudly. Referee Russell Mora stepped in at 2:20 of the 11th just as Santisima’s corner threw in the towel. To his credit, Santisima was never knocked down in the contest. Mora waved it off with Navarrete swarming over a helpless Santisima along the ropes.

After the fight, Santisima was brought to the hospital for a mandatory MRI as required by the Nevada State Athletic Commission of knockout losers. He was cleared of any brain injury but a finding of a left orbital emphysema was noted. A left lamina papyracea fracture was also noted. The lamina papyracea or the orbital lamina of the ethmoid bone is the principal component of the medial wall of the orbit.

ALA Boxing CEO Michael Aldeguer, who was at ringside, said “everything is normal except for his eye which has a minor fracture.” Aldeguer described Navarrete as “the complete package … tough, calculating, smart, effortless power and very composed.” He added, “I’ve never seen anything like him … no wonder people (in Las Vegas) are saying Navarrete could be the next big star from Mexico …he has been one of the most active world champions with all the big events he has been a part of.”

As for Santisima, Aldeguer said he’s got a bright future. “Jeo will learn a lot from this fight and will be a better fighter for sure,” he said. “He has nothing to be ashamed of. What made us so proud of him is that he showed a lot of heart and the extravagant atmosphere in Vegas didn’t bother him at all. A lot of people told me he could be a world champion someday.”

What caught Aldeguer’s attention in the fight was Navarrete’s size. He looked so much bigger than Santisima when the first bell rang even as both scaled 122 pounds on the dot at the weigh-in the day before. “For some reason, the past years, I’ve observed that the Mexican fighters are small at the weigh-in then the next day, they just look so big and different,” he said.

ALA Boxing head trainer Edito Villamor, who was in Santisima’s corner, said Navarrete could’ve bulked up at least to 140 pounds for the fight. “Sobrang lakas ni Navarrete,” said Villamor. “His jabs were powerful. Alam ni Jeo na dapat siya ang magdala ng laban at huwag siyang paatras. But hindi niya maiwasan yung jab ni Navarrete. Very experienced si Navarrete, 32 fights na siya at si Jeo, 22.”

Villamor said Santisima didn’t get tired but complained of pain in his left eye when Mora called it off. “Ayaw niyang matalo ng knockout at pilit niyang umabot ng 12 rounds sana,” he continued. “But noong marami na siyang tama sa 11th round, tinapon na namin ang tuwalya.”

ALA owner Tony Aldeguer said Santisima just refused to go down. “The only thing he showed was his big heart,” said Aldeguer. “He really wanted to finish the fight on his feet but the referee did right in stopping it. Jeo is still young and we hope he gets to fight more abroad.”

Aldeguer said WBO president Paco Valcarcel reportedly remarked that Santisima has the makings of a champion and could ascend the throne someday. “Those are very consoling words coming from Paco,” he said. Santisima will arrive in Manila tomorrow then proceed home to Cebu with his traveling party on a connecting flight.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Joaquin Henson.

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