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Navarrete Keeps Title with KO, While Santillan, of San Diego, Ali Walsh Also Claim Victories


Welterweight Mira Mesa boxer
Giovani Santillan as he’s declared the victor Saturday at Pechanga Arena. Photo credit: Screen shot, ESPN

Champion Emanuel Navarrete defended his title with one punch Saturday in boxing action at Pechanga Arena, while San Diego’s Giovani Santillan remained undefeated.

Navarrete knocked out challenger Eduardo Baez of Mexicali with a body blow at 1:05 of the sixth round to retain his WBO Featherweight title.

The champion told ESPN after his win that “not many guys can take that shot” – referring to his punch to Baez’s midsection.

He also acknowledged that the fight “was a lot more complicated than I had anticipated.” ESPN reported that two of the three judges had Baez ahead through the first five rounds, until Navarrete left the challenger down for the count.

Navarrete, a native of San Juan Zitlaltepec, improved to 36-1, to win his 30th straight fight. Baez fell to 21-3.

Santillan, meanwhile, went the distance against Julio Luna in their welterweight bout and won a unanimous decision to stay perfect at 30-0. He did so despite a nasty cut below his right eyebrow that opened up in the seventh round.

Luna, who also had been unbeaten, fell to 19-1.

Earlier in the day, Nico Ali Walsh, the grandson of boxing legend Muhammad Ali, knocked out Reyes Sanchez, a fighter he had beaten by decision last year. The middleweight prospect, in winning his sixth bout, stayed undefeated, and tweeted “I’ll be back real soon. This story is far from finished.”

Both Navarrete and Santillan prevailed last fall in fights at Pechanga.


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