Former world title challenger and WBC #8 bantamweight Alejandro “Peque” Santiago says despite the challenges of training in a pandemic, he is more than ready to continue his campaign to finally claim a world championship. A professional underdog, Santiago (21-2-5, 11 KOs) has no less than five controversial draws on his record, including one in a challenge for IBF Super Flyweight World Champion Jerwin Ancajas’ belt in 2018.
Tijuana’s Santiago will return home on Monday (September 21) to defend his WBC International bantamweight championship against Willibaldo Garcia (10-3-1, 5 KOs) in a ten-rounder that will be live streamed on PPV.
24-year-old Santiago has made a career out of surprising his favored opponents in their backyards. First battling to a 10-round draw with then-undefeated Antonio Nieves for the NABO Championship on ShoBox: The New Generation. Next came two controversial draws against highly touted Puerto Rican Jose Martinez in Martinez’s backyard of Puerto Rico, the second for the NABO Super Flyweight Championship. Then came his highest profile draw in September 2018, this time against Jerwin Ancajas, where one judge scored the fight 118-111 for Santiago.
Anything changed from your usual training camps because of Covid?
Many things changed for this camp. Our gym closed, so it was a bit difficult to find sparring, however, just like in a fight we made adjustments and adapted. That is what champions do.
What do you know about your opponent?
I know that he is tough and comes to fight. He will be very well prepared to face me on September 21.
Are you a bantamweight now or would you go back down to super flyweight?
I feel that I’ve waited long enough for any of the champions at 115 to face me. I felt strong during my last fight at bantamweight, but if the right opportunity presents itself, I can move back down to 115 lbs.
You’ve had a lot of controversial outcomes in your career. What do you think your professional record should be?
I feel like all five of the draws on my record should have been wins. I should be 26-2 and a world champion.
Why do you think you are not getting close decisions?
Because I have been the ‘B’ side for all of them. Complaining doesn’t do any good though, so I am working very hard to apply to be a lot more aggressive and win rounds without any doubt.
Does it feel good to be fighting at home?
It’s always good to fight in Tijuana. But I also love the challenge of fighting outside my comfort zone. It motivates me.
What are your goals for the next year?
My goal is to fight for the world championship again and win it this time.