By Nick Giongco
Showing up in his open workout in Tijuana beaming with pride and confidence, Mexican champion Emanuel Navarrete on Wednesday vowed not only to whip Filipino challenger Jeo Santisima but become the first to knock him out when they square off on Feb. 22.
Ten days before making the fifth defense of the World Boxing Organization (WBO) super-bantamweight crown at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Navarrete told the Mexican media why he is emerging triumphant anew.
“I am more than ready for my fifth defense. I always prepare 100% and go out for the knockout. I know that the Filipino has never been knocked out, so then I will be the first,” said Navarrete, who has a 30-1 record with 26 KOs.
“I’m very happy to fight again in Las Vegas and on a card that will get the world’s attention with the rematch between (Deontay) Wilder against (Tyson) Fury. We will arrive with great preparation, in great rhythm and give everything inside the ring. The championship will return to Mexico,” guaranteed Navarrete, whose list of title defense victims includes Juan Miguel Elorde.
Navarrete, despite his edge in experience, feels it will be foolish to look past Santisima, who packs a 19-2 mark with 16 KOs.
“The Filipino rival, Jeo Santisima, is very strong, very tough, hits hard and durable, but we will impose the conditions because if we let him take the initiative, it can cost us dearly. We are motivated and confident, and backed by a great preparation,” Navarrete said.
While Navarrete was showcasing his wares, Santisima was packing his bags in Cebu, where his journey will begin.
From the Queen City, Santisima and trainers Edito ‘Ala’ Villamor and Michael Domingo and promoter Michael Aldeguer, are flying to Manila to catch an evening flight to Los Angeles.
Team Santisima will train for a few days at Freddie Roach’s Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood before motoring to Las Vegas next week.