By Jason Marchetti
Heavyweight Alexis Santos (18-1, 15 KO’s) from Lawrence Massachusetts, headlines Broadway Boxing card at Foxwoods Resort and Casino this weekend promoted by DiBella Entertainment. Fighting for the third time in the past year, Santos will step up to fight Niall Kennedy (8-0, 5 KO’s) from Gorey, Ireland.
Santos has won 5 fights in a row since his lone loss, the result of an injury sustained in the first round against Daniel Martz in 2014. Santos destroyed Martz in the rematch two years later, knocking him out in the 7th round of their scheduled 10 round bout.
At 6’0 and 225 lbs, Santos is a smaller heavyweight who trains at the Haverhill Inner City Boxing Club and Youth Development Center by trainer Mel Peabody and manager Sean Farley. He has had success fighting almost exclusively in the Northeast with 15 of his 19 contests ending by knockout. Fightnews.com caught up with the rising prospect ahead of this weekend’s showdown.
Who promoted you prior to DiBella?
I was a promotional free agent for most of my boxing career. I was approached by smaller promoters but I decided to hire a manager and stay independent. It was a necessary evil to do so, but you learn how to deal with the industry, sell tickets, and get a spot on cards when needed.
Prior to my injury, I was hoping to sign with Golden Boy. I took some time and proved myself and now I’m very happy to be in my third fight with Lou DiBella.
Explain your injury against Martz and your recovery.
I was 13-0 and hoping to sign a deal with Golden Boy who televised the event on Fox Sports. I was moving around the taller Martz (who is 6’7) and as I threw a left hook, I felt pain in my legs. I didn’t know it but I tore my ACL and tried to fight through it. Later in the 2nd round, I tore my meniscus and couldn’t continue. It took about 18 months to heal with physical therapy. It was a long lay-off, but I was able to reflect and re-evaluate my boxing situation and it made me a smarter person inside and outside the ring.
How would you rate your last performance against Jesse Barboza?
I give myself a C+/B-. Jesse came to fight and was tougher than expected. I tend to sometimes start slow, and looking back I should have opened up earlier. Jesse was coming off a loss and took it seriously. I was happy to out-work him and get the victory and in the end, I was able to learn from it. He’s a solid opponent.
How did the fight with Naill Kennedy come together?
Murphy’s Boxing proposed the bout. I discussed it with my team and took the fight. That was the only option at the moment and I want to fight and stay active. I know he will probably be my toughest fight to date. I fought on a few Murphy’s cards so I know the promoter and his team. He has a strong amateur background. He comes to fight. But this is business and should be a good test for both of us.
Your record is 18-1, but few top 100 opponents. Who would you like to face in the top 50 or top 25 in the division
I don’t want to cherry-pick. At the end of the day, I want a lucrative payday and I’ll go to them to do it. I want top 10 contenders. I’m old-school. I ready to take the next step and go into someone’s hometown in order to climb the ranks. The time is now to compete at that level and hopefully this fight will take me there. I leave the opponents to the managers and promoters, and I’ll do my job inside the ring.
Would you consider going to Europe to fight on the B-side of a card?
It’s always in the back of my mind. I’ll go anywhere to get a shot. The East coast is nice, but I want to follow the money.
As a smaller heavyweight, do you have any reservations about fighting bigger opponents? How do you make up for the lack of size?
Good question. Work twice as hard, be in shape, out-work your opponent, and don’t get caught. Heavyweight boxing is beautiful and nasty. One punch can change everything. They may be bigger and stronger, but I’m faster and more accurate. I’m also a smaller target. I’ll stay in the gym, get my road work in, and be in superior conditioning every time. Big risks equal big rewards.
The landscape of the heavyweight division has changed in the past two years. People seem to be more interested.
Agreed. There are guys with talent and who are physical specimens like Parker, Joshua, and Wilder. They are taking over. There is lots of excitement and good fights coming up. But heavyweight inventory is still low. It is sometimes still tough to get fights.
At 6’0, have you ever considered dropping to cruiserweight?
Not really. I’m weaker at anything less than 210-215. I don’t think it realistically would be very healthy. I wouldn’t rule it out but I’m strongest at 225 lbs.
Do you have a plan to be more active?
Hopefully stay in shape and keep the ball rolling. I’m 28 and now I’m boxing full-time. That’s why I’m happy to be with Lou to keep me active and get me opportunities.