By Nick Giongco
Mexican champion Emanuel Navarrete battered Filipino challenger Jeo Santisima in the 11th round to retain the World Boxing Organization super-bantamweight crown for the fifth time Saturday (Sunday, Manila time) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Referee Russell Mora stepped in at the 2:20 mark as Navarrete rained heavy blows on the grossly overmatched Santisima, whose lone shining moment in his first title try was that he didn’t go down even amid Navarrete’s heavy two-fisted assault.
“The Filipino was a true warrior,” said Navarrete, who was never in trouble in the entire fight that ringsiders never thought would go that far.
Though outgunned, Santisima attempted to land a Hail Mary shot a few times and came close to doing just that in the fourth frame when a left hook on the neck drove Navarrete to the ropes.
But it turned out to be the signal Navarrete needed to step up the attack and in the succeeding rounds, Santisima was on the defensive as the power-punching champion unloaded with punches that were oozing with bad intentions.
Santisima looked as if he was about to go down towards the end of the tenth stanza but he managed to hear the bell and went back to his corner.
In the eleventh, sensing blood, Navarrete went after Santisima and launched an offensive but it took the third man on the ring some time before deciding to pull the plug.
The win boosted Navarrete’s record to 31-1 with 27 KOs while the loss dropped Santisima’s card to 19-3 with 16 KOs. To his credit, Santisima didn’t suffer a knockdown.