During the week I had the honour to speak with a real boxing man, a fighter who’s done things the hard way in life and his career and is now looking to take things to the next level in 2016. That man is Ohio’s super-welterweight Wilkins Santiago.
As our cross-Atlantic phone conversation started, Wilkins (12-1-2KO) told me had just been recovering recently from surgery to his eye that went well to the point where he is now back sparring in the gym.
Wilkins is also a very busy boxing coach in his native Ohio, but when he’s getting ready for a professional fight him and his head trainer Eddie Croft hook up with one of the world’s best gyms that is managed by respected coach Virgil Hunter, in his camp in the Bay Area in San Francisco, California.
As such, Santiago has mixed with some of the best in the world in sparring and training, from the likes of Andre Berto to Amir Khan – and very much held his own.
He is a man who’s gone under the radar a tad since turning pro back in 2010 after some brief trouble with the law that saw him serve some jail time, but as he told me himself:
“Its made me a better father, person and fighter. All I was thinking about in there was boxing.”
Santiago within the boxing business is known however as an excellent operator, having only lost one fight ever that came via a decision last November to Wilfredo Acuna.
In this clip from Hustle Boss below, he’s seen giving former world champion Shawn Porter all he can handle:
I got the impression after speaking with Wilkins at length, that he is a man more focused than ever on the sweet science and at 35 years of age, he knows exactly what he wants out of his prize fighting career now.
He’s also a keen student of the game and our chat covered numerous topics on fighters past and present, Santigao is one of those fighters who genuinely lives, eats, sleeps and loves boxing with a passion.
It was really apparent straight away from talking to him, an almost palpable energy, drive and focus came through the other end of the phone as I listened to him.
Wilkins is a boxer style-wise who can mix things up, both from a technical boxing and fighting perspective too, and one fight he’d love to have next is with Canada’s Phil Lo Greco (27-2-15KO) who’s shared the ring with notable American boxing stars in recent years – such as Errol Spence Jr and Shaun Porter.
Wilkins, also called the ‘Hispanic Hurricane’, told me its a fight he thinks matches up well for him:
“Yeah I’d love the Logreco fight. I’ll fight anybody. I’m an all round fighter who can box and brawl when I have to. I’m not scared of anybody.”
Santiago is slated to fight next on June 11th at the Presque Isle Downs Casino, Erie, Pennsylvania.
(Image source and credit: Wilkins Santiago Facebook)
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