Outgunned Pinoy loses by TKO
Emanuel Navarrete, left, and Jeo Santisima exchange punches during their bout at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Outgunned Pinoy loses by TKO

Joaquin Henson (The Philippine Star) - February 24, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Jeo Santisima was badly outgunned but never took a count as he displayed a warrior’s heart in failing to dethrone WBO superbantamweight champion Emanuel Navarrete who retained his title via a technical knockout at 2:20 of the 11th round at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas last Saturday night (yesterday morning, Manila time).  

Navarrete, 25, raised his record to 31-1 and of his 27 wins by stoppage, this was only the third that went as far as 11 rounds. Santisima, 23, was toppled twice, in the fifth and 11th, but referee Russell Mora ruled no knockdown as he was clearly pushed to his knees. The Filipino’s slate dipped to 19-3, with 16 KOs.

As expected, Navarrete started slow, measuring Santisima from a distance and throwing the left jab to establish control. Santisima had difficulty overcoming Navarrete’s 4 1/2 inch reach advantage and the tone was set from the first round where the Mexican titleholder threw 62 punches, landing 18, compared to the Filipino’s connection rate of 2-of-19. Santisima walked back to his corner with a bloodied nose. It was more of the same in the second stanza as Navarrete continued to score with his left jab and occasionally, with 1-2 combinations capped by a right uppercut or straight. In the third round, Navarrete stepped up the pace as he repeatedly landed shots to the head and body. Santisima’s lack of lateral movement and footwork made him an easy target.

Then, Navarrete got comfortable. Santisima adjusted his defense to lean away from Navarrete’s punches and countered with digs to the side of the body in the fourth. A left hook to Navarrete’s neck caused the Mexican to stumble into the ropes. It was clearly Santisima’s best round. In the fifth, Navarrete came out smoking and abandoned his long-distance strategy to go toe-to-toe, probably because he was embarrassed in the previous round. Navarrete went on a rampage like an attack dog and shook up Santisima who grabbed and held to survive the onslaught. The Mexican landed 47 shots in the round while Santisima connected only 7-of-34.

It appeared that Navarrete punched himself out in the fifth because he coasted in the sixth. Santisima, however, didn’t capitalize as he too appeared to catch his breath. He missed two haymakers near the end of the round. In the seventh, Santisima hung tough as Navarrete picked up steam and stayed in control. Sensing that Santisima was tiring out and hardly throwing, Navarrete turned on the heat. But it looked like Navarrete hurt his right hand during the infighting. He later said he jammed his right thumb. In the ninth, Navarrete occasionally turned southpaw to use his left more as an attack weapon than as a set-up jab. Santisima soaked up more punishment and worse, went gun-shy. Navarrete went in for the kill in the 10th but Santisima stayed on his feet. A series of vicious blows to the head had no reply from the Filipino who desperately resorted to clinching to end the round. In the 11th, Santisima came out swinging, looking for one shot to turn the tide around. Navarrete wasn’t perturbed and in one instance, rested his elbow on the top rope to show total confidence. A hard left to the body triggered a barrage of punches that left Santisima helpless along the ropes, prompting Mora to wave it off.

Santisima’s cutman Dr. Ed de la Vega said under Nevada State Athletic Commission rules, the Filipino was sent to the hospital for “precautionary exams” as a protocol for fighters who lose by knockout. “He’s OK,” said De la Vega. “Jeo has a suspected eye injury but that needs to be verified. He was tough but Navarrete was tougher. He took Jeo’s best shots but never flinched except on two occasions. Jeo had a bloody nose after the first round but it was no issue. I took care of it easily. No cuts. He had a bruised left temple.”

MP Promotions head Sean Gibbons, who arranged the title shot for Santisima, confirmed that the challenger was brought to the hospital for observation. After the fight was halted, Gibbons went straight to Santisima’s corner to check on his condition. Navarrete had problems making the superbantamweight limit of 122 pounds and is rumored to be moving up to the featherweight division. If the throne is declared vacant, Santisima could work his way back into title contention. His valiant showing against Navarrete should keep him in consideration for another crack at the crown.

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