On February 20th, 2021, Jovanie Santiago (14-0-1, 10 KOs) will take part in what is undoubtedly the biggest fight of his career when he squares off against former four-time world champion Adrien Broner. If Adrien Broner is famously and infamously known to most of the boxing world, Santiago resides in the abyss of boxing obscurity. Aside from hardcore boxing fanatics and his local fanbase, Santiago's is relatively unknown to most of the boxing public. With less than 48 hours to go before fight-night, I had the opportunity to check in with Jovanie Santiago.
Please enjoy this Q n A with Santiago, a 31-year-old native of Puerto Rico.
JR: Good morning. Thank you for taking a few minutes out of your busy schedule to sit down and talk to me. How are you doing today? How has the training camp been so far?
JS: Thank you for reaching out to me. Camp has been going well. My team and I feel great and are very motivated. We are very excited about the fight on Saturday night. We have put in the work, and on Saturday night Adrien Broner will know who is Jovanie Santiago.
JR: You have an impressive record of 14-0-1, 10 KOs. For the fans that follow the sport casually and for those that haven’t heard of Jovanie Santiago, please take a brief moment and tell us about yourself. Tell me about your beginnings in the sport and walk me through your career up to this point.
JS: I currently reside in Dorado, Puerto Rico. I have always been a fighter. I was born to fight. When I was a kid, I was always getting into fights with other kids. My father was a boxer himself. Because I was getting into so many fights, my parents decided to take me to a boxing gym so I could channel that energy into boxing. I love boxing, and I know that I was born to fight. I had on or about 95 amateur fights before turning pro. I am currently signed to Fresh Boxing Promotions.
JR: Who is your trainer, and how long has he been in your corner?
JS: My trainer is Raul “Papo’ Torres. He has been my trainer since I started boxing. He has been in my corner from the very beginning, and we have a great relationship. He and my father have my best interest at heart and make sure that I am ready for any fight.
JR: Tell me about your training regimen and your preparation for this fight, Jovanie Santiago.
JS: The training camp has been going great. I wake up at 5:00 am and do my road work. The rest of the day is spent on conditioning and working on my boxing skills. I have a great group of sparring partners that include former world champion Roman “Rocky” Martinez. He has been a tremendous asset in helping prepare for this fight.
JR: Did you have a hard time making weight for this fight? Do you feel good physically?
JS: No, I have always made the weight comfortable. Making weight is not an issue for me. I am in shape, and I feel great going into this fight.
JR: What do you consider your fighting style to be? What can the fans expect when they attend a Jovanie Santiago fight?
I consider myself to be a strong pressure fighter. The fans can expect an action-packed fight and expect me to press the action when they come to see me fight.
JR: This is your first time fighting on a major network like Showtime. Is it fair to say that this is the biggest fight of your career? Are you feeling nervous or anxious about Saturday night?
JS: Yes, this is the biggest fight of my career. It is my first fight on Showtime, and I am facing off against a former four-time world champion. I understand the magnitude of this fight and what it means for my career. I am not nervous at all. I haven't been worried or anxious in a fight since my professional debut. I am comfortable and confident that we have put in the work to be victorious on Saturday.
JR: What was the energy like in the Jovanie Santiago household when you got the phone call offering you the fight with Adrien Broner?
JS: My friends and family were happy when we got the call. The energy was positive, and everyone was very supportive. I was excited because I know that this fight will launch my career to another level.
JR: What do you consider your most significant skill set? What is the one thing in your arsenal that has given you tremendous success during fights?
JS: I would say that I attack the body effectively. It is a tactic that I try to use in every fight. As the saying goes, “for a tree to fall, you have to start chopping at the trunk.”
JR: Adrien Broner has developed a very defensive fighting style since his loss to Marcos Maidana. He is often criticized for his low output of punches during a fight. Do you plan to capitalize on his inactivity? What is your fight plan, and how do you plan on engaging Broner?
I have studied Adrien Broner’s fights. I plan to fight my style of fighting. I plan to apply pressure and be aggressive. We have prepared for any situation that may present itself. If I have to change tactics and box a little more, I will.
JR: What do you say to the critics who believe that you’re nothing more than a steppingstone for Adrien Broner to relaunch his career?
JS: There are always going to be critics and people that have nothing positive to say. I don't pay that any mind. I am confident that we have put in the work, and we will win this fight. Like I said earlier, come Saturday night, both the critics and Adrien Broner will know who Jovanie Santiago is.
JR: Thank you for taking a few minutes and allowing me to interview you, Jovanie Santiago. Do you have any last words for your fans and the boxing public before the showdown on Saturday?
Yes, I want to thank everyone that follows me for their love and support during this training camp. I want to encourage the boxing public not to miss this fight on Saturday. I am prepared for this fight. I am confident that I will be victorious, and I am ready to show everyone and Adrien Broner what I am capable of.
My Take: It is difficult not to root for Jovanie Santiago. Coupled with Adrien Broner’s immaturity and shenanigans outside the ring, Santiago’s humbleness, positivity, and self-confidence are infectious and make him very likable to the boxing public. Jovanie Santiago is a tough boxer-puncher who possesses good punching power to make things difficult for Adrien Broner. He’s a relentless pressure fighter that attacks the body well. During the interview, Santiago exuded confidence and emphasized that he’s ready to capitalize on this opportunity. Not one time during the interview did he use a passive tone. Santiago didn't say he hopes to win; on the contrary, he mentioned numerous times that he would be victorious during the interview. Much of Santiago’s success will depend on which Adrien Broner shows up. If Broner decides to fight a defensive fight that only includes low output one punch shots, then Santiago will find himself chasing Broner, and it will be difficult for him to impose his pressure style of fighting. Santiago is adamant that he and his team are prepared for any scenario that presents itself. After talking to Santiago, I saw confidence and a focused determination in his eyes throughout the interview. I believe that in addition to his boxing skills, this is what exponentially increases his chances to beat Adrien Broner Saturday night.