Angelo “The Cobra” Santana [14-0 11 KO] was a two time Cuban national champion with only three defeats in an amateur career that spanned over 180 bouts. After defecting in 2007, the now 24 year old was quickly signed up by renowned promoter Don King. Last night the highly touted lightweight faced off against Juan Garcia [13-1 8 KO] as the headliner on Showtime’s ShoBox: The Next Generation where he scored a spectacular a Knockout of the Year contender against his previously undefeated opponent. Before his bout, he took time with to speak to Fox News Latino.
Angelo how has training camp gone for you in preparation for this fight?
Santana: The camp has been a very hard camp with some good boxing and very good sparring. I’m ready to leave everything in the ring come Friday night. I’m don’t really care about my opponent, it’s about how I like in the ring. When I get in the ring I will try to take him [Garcia] out.
Do You take inspiration from fellow esteemed Cuban fighters who have defected such as Yuriorkis Gamboa and Guillermo Rigondeaux and how they have excelled?
Santana: Oh yes. That’s where I get the most inspiration. They pretty much train in our gyms and we are all very close together. We are all in touch, [Guillermo] Rigondeaux right now is training in my gym with his trainer.
This is your first headline slot on a major cable outlet, on Showtime. Is this an important platform for you to show fans what you have?
Santana: I’m so highly motivated because of the viewers on TV being able to see me. I can show them what I have and I’m fighting somebody who I said I would fight in the first place.
You came to America on a homemade raft in 2007 that carried 27 fellow Cubans to pursue boxing, does everything else in your career seem easy compared to that experience?
Santana: To tell you the truth I came to US because my sweetheart had moved. She is sat next to me right now in the hotel room. So I did not even move for boxing reasons. But everything is hard in life. Everything, that’s why I have to keep working to achieve what I want in the sport.
You have already fought in Madison Square Garden, which you have mentioned was a dream come true, what other aspirations do you have left?
Santana: Yes. Fighting in New York was a dream come true. But I really want to become a champion. That’s the first and most important goal for me. After that I want to concentrate on getting better and fighting the best out there, be it at 130 or 135 pounds, guys like [Antonio] DeMarco or Broner, but I will fight whoever Don [King] puts in front of me.
Would you ever consider fighting Yuriorkis Gamboa if both of your careers keep moving in such upward trajectories and you were at the same weight?
Santana: I will say this. I’ve never really given it any thought because we’re the best of friends, but boxing is a business so if the money was right and Don [King] and Bob Arum [Gamboa’s promoter] were able to come to an agreement, then of course. Anything is possible.
People often level the criticism at Cuban boxers who turn pro that their style is safety first and does not excite fans. Is this something you’d like to challenge?
Santana: The switch from amateur to pro has been very easy. In amateur you wear headgear and move and punch all the time. In the pros you have to sit down and throw your punches harder with bad intentions. But on the whole it’s not something that has been a problem.
Igor Guryashkin is a freelance journalist whose extensive work on combat sports has been featured in ESPN The Magazine and ESPN.com. He splits his time between New York and Louisville. Follow him on Twitter @IGuryashkinESPN.