‘This fight means everything to me’: Mira Mesa boxer puts undefeated record to test in hometown


SAN DIEGO — Boxing returns to Pechanga Arena on Oct. 15 as one San Diegan makes his first hometown appearance in more than seven years in the ring.

Giovani Santillan puts his perfect 27-0 record to the test in a 10-round welterweight brawl against Angel “Relampago” Ruiz.

For Santillan, growing up in Mira Mesa, boxing is part of the family DNA.

“I started boxing when I was eight years old,” Santillan said. “My dad would see my brother and I just hang out after school and he didn’t like that. He wanted us to be active.”

That after-school activity turned into more than two decades worth of training and nearly 80 amateur bouts.

“Ever since the day I set foot in the gym, it was something very serious for me,” Santillan said. “I really wanted to learn and get better at it.”

By Gio’s side this entire process, his father Guillermo, who can be found in the ring helping train his son. 

“We have this bond and I think it’s different than most people that I know,” Santillan said. “Just spending so much time together at the gym, boxing’s just evolved and so our family has revolved so much around it”. 

“Every single day, I finish working right here, I go to my house and I’m watching boxing,” his father said. “It’s kind of boring sometimes for my wife.”

Santillan turned pro in 2012 and enters his next bout an undefeated 27-0. The fight at Pechanga Arena will be his first in his hometown in seven years.

“This fight means everything to me, especially being here in my hometown of San Diego,” he said. “I’ve only had one other fight here as a professional and to do it again on a bigger stage means everything and can really catapult my career.”

Despite not fighting in San Diego for nearly seven years, Santillan trains and works as a trainer at The Boxing Club in East Village, never losing sight of his life’s dream. 

“At this point in my career, I want those bigger fights,” he said. “My next fight is very important to me to get me there and step closer to a world title.”

His father said he wants to see Gio be a “champion of the world.”

“That’s his goal and that’s my goal,” Guillermo said.

For more on Santillan, click on the media player at the top of the story. 

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