By Derek Gionta: Junior middleweight Wilkins "The Hispanic Hurricane" Santiago made his first headline assignment on Saturday July 13th at Mountaineer Race Track and Resort’s longtime boxing venue, the Harv. After nearly four rounds were completed, the Lorain, Ohio native suffered a cut over the left eye from an accidental head butt from his opponent, Gilbert Venegas, ending the fight early as a no-contest.
Santiago, 9-0-1 (1KO), 1 NC, of Puerto Rican descent, thrived at the opportunity to serve as the main event against a gritty Mexican fighter in Venegas, 12-9-3 (8 KOs), 1 NC, which was slated for 8 rounds.
Venegas landed the bigger blows in the first round, most notably a left hook to the body early on, and a right hand to the head late. Santiago boxed well but the telling blows landed by Venegas gave him the round on my scorecard.
Santiago began fighting out of his southpaw stance in the second, picking up the work rate, and winning the round despite a game effort by Venegas. The third round was nearly a blueprint of the second, with Santiago heating up.
Venegas had a pretty good round in the fourth, which was back and forth. The head butt occurred nearly mid-way through the round after a Santiago flurry on the ropes. The doctor wasted little time as he advised referee Tim Wheeler to call off the bout.
West Virginia rules state that the fourth round must be complete if a fight is stopped due to a cut from an accidental head butt, or the fight is declared a no-contest.
Santiago was disappointed at the verdict, but has reasons to remain optimistic about his opportunities to fight under the TNT Promotions and Roy Jones Jr. Presents banner in the near future.
Morgan "Big Chief" Fitch, 10-0 (4 KOs) won a six round unanimous decision over veteran Billy Bailey, 12-17 (4 KOs), of Bakersfield, CA. Fitch, from New Orleans, now living in Pittsburgh, clearly out boxed and out worked Bailey, leaving no doubt as the judges all saw a clean shutout of 60-54. Bailey was game and fought well in short spurts but the consistent head and body attack of Fitch was the factor. Fitch, now 30 years old, is a solid technical fighter looking to step up the competition at super middleweight.
Nicolai "Stone Man" Firtha, 21-10-1 (8 KOs), of Akron, OH W MD 6 over Robert "Big Philly" Hawkins, 23-22, (7 KOs), of Philadelphia, PA-Scores were 58-56 x 2 and 57-57-Heavyweights
Billy "Hutch" Hutchinson, 7-1-2 (4 KOs), of Pittsburgh, W UD 6 over Angel "The White Tiger" Rios, 9-18 (6 KOs), of the Bronx, NY. Scores were 60-54 x 3-Welterweights
Greg Brady, 2-1 (2 KOs), of Buffalo, NY W KO 3 over Travis Reeves, 1-3, of Baltimore, MD-Cruiserweights
Joey "The Hitman" Holt, 4-0 (3 KOs), of East Liverpool, OH W UD 4 over Anthony Kelly, 0-8-2, of Toledo, OH. Scores were 40-36 x 3-Junior Middleweights
Notable promoter/matchmaker Don Elbaum was in attendance.
Promoter: TNT Sports Promotions and Roy Jones Jr. Presents
Matchmaker: Mark Yankello
July 13, 2013