By Sean Jones: Alexis Rocha (23-2, 15 KOs), reacting to his sixth round knockout loss to Giovani Santillan (32-0, 17 KOs) on Saturday night, says he should have boxed him instead of going to war in their fight at the KIA Forum in Inglewood, California.
(Photo Credit: Golden Boy / Cris Esqueda)
Rocha paid the price by choosing to slug with Santillan, as he took advantage of his poor defensive skills to bust up his nose and drop him three times in the fight before the bout was stopped in the sixth round by referee Ray Corona.
The 26-year-old Rocha says the game plan was for him to box, but he didn’t follow it and chose to stand and trade with Santillan.
Interestingly, Rocha states that Santillan didn’t hit hard, but the fact that he was throwing so many punches that he ended up clipping him in the sixth.
At one point, Santillan hit Rocha with six consecutive right hooks to knock him down in the fifth round. The Golden Boy promoted Rocha, blocked none of those shots, and went down on his backside.
In round six, Santillan finished Rocha by nailing him with two big uppercuts to flatten him. Referee Ray Corona then called a halt to the contest at 1:13.
Rocha wanted to continue fighting
“I wasn’t going to lay on my back and make it easy like that. If I’m going to lay on my back, I better be out,” said Alexis Rocha to the media at the post-fight press conference after his sixth round knockout loss to Giovani Santillan.
“I didn’t want to stay down. I wanted to get back up, but the referee waved it off. It is what it is,” Rocha continued. “I’ve been here before. I’ve never been knocked out. This is my first time, but it’s boxing. I’m going to carry myself with my head up high.”
It’s a good thing the referee stopped the fight because Rocha was badly hurt, with blood gushing profusely from his injured nose, and he had no way of keeping Santillan off of him. A skilled fighter like Jaron ‘Boots’ Ennis or Terence Crawford would have known how to deal with Santillan’s offense, but not Rocha.
He had no clue what to do, which wasn’t a shock because he’d taken a lot of punishment in his fight against second-tier fighter George Ashie last January.
That fight showed that Rocha was eventually going to get beaten up and stopped by someone. It’s just a surprise that Santillan was the one to do it, as he’d struggled recently against an over-the-hill former lightweight champion, Antonio DeMarco.
Alexis vows to come back
“We’ll back better, 100%. I promise you that. No, I expected that,” said Rocha when asked if he was surprised by Santillan coming out so fast. “Credit to him. I had a game plan, and he had a game plan. I just wasn’t following my game plan, and I paid the price.”
Rocha will need to make a lot of improvements in his game for him to have a chance of coming back from this loss to get ranked highly. He didn’t look any better tonight than he had in his previous fights, and that’s why he lost.
“To box more,” said Rocha when asked what his trainers were telling him. “I was in the pocket more. He was a tough guy. He didn’t hit too hard, but you don’t want to be in wars like that. If you’re in a war like that, a punch or two is bound to happen. I got clipped with a shot, and I just wasn’t listening to my coaches at all.
“No, I was just standing in the pocket trading with him, and that was my downfall,” said Rocha when asked if he ever made any adjustments in the fight. “I should have boxed a lot more. I need to move my head more and box more.
“I’ll go back to the drawing board and go from there. I want to be back in the gym next week. I’ll recover, and I want to be back. I don’t want to take time off. I better put pressure on. I better box more and be more intelligent. I just stood and traded with him,” Rocha said.
It’s questionable whether Rocha can revamp his game to box because he’s always been a slugger, and even when he was trying to fight from the outside tonight, Santillan quickly walked him down and forced him to slug.
Rocha won’t be out long
“The weight was fine; it was perfect. I knew his style. There’s no excuses here. He was the better man tonight, and that’s just what it is. It’s my fault again. I should have moved my head, I should have clinched, and I should have been on the outside more,” said Rocha when asked about his second knockdown.
“I appreciate all of you guys being here and supporting me. I wasn’t at my best. I’m really down right now, but I’m doing my best to give you an interview. That’s what makes me a better person.
“I won’t be out for long. That was tough knowing that I brought a big crowd and I lost in front of a big crowd. It’s tough, but it’s boxing. Unfortunately, I’m at a low right now.”
If Rocha’s nose is broken, he should rest up. Even if it isn’t, he needs to take a break and recover from this beating because he took a lot of punishment in the fight.
Although Rocha says that Santillan doesn’t hit hard, the fact that he was hit so many times by him is still not a good thing.
“When I win, I show sportsmanship, and when I lose, I show the same sportsmanship as when I win,” said Rocha. “So, I’m going to hold my head up high. I have a great team behind me, and we’re going to go to the top.
“He was with me right now. He saw me crying, and he started crying too. It’s heartbreaking. He told me that he’d been here before. He got up, I got up, and it’s no different. We’re going to get back up.
“Yeah, I feel fine at 147. I’ve always said I could make 140, but we’ll see in the future. I never said that. I said if a possibility opened up at a catchweight. I don’t even know if I can make 140 first,” said Rocha when asked if he’d like to fight Ryan Garcia.
It’s safe to say that Ryan Garcia won’t be showing interest in fighting Rocha anytime soon, so he should forget about him.
“If I were to make 143 or 144, then maybe I would consider going down. I’m already dehydrating to go down to 147. Imagine seven extra pounds of dehydrating yourself. It’s tough, but like I said, if that fight would ever present itself in the future, yeah, but I’m not going to call out Ryan Garcia,’ said Rocha.