"My game plan is to get in there and do what I do and stay on top of him and pound his body out, man...I been in with the best, so ain't no excuses on November 30th. I train hard and I put it in every day and I stay to myself. I believe I will come out on top on November 30th...I belong with these world-class guys," stated middleweight Wilkins Santiago, who talked about his upcoming fight on November 30 and much more. Check it out!
PC: Big fight coming up on November 30th. Tell us about it, man.
WS: I feel wonderful. I just got my workout out of the way and that was about 2 ½ hours, close to 3, and then after that, I decided to hit a 5-mile run. So just getting ready for November 30th. The guy is on a 5-fight winning streak and I will be ready to go. I'm just putting in hard work and the results will speak for themselves.
PC: Like many boxers, you had to go through a lot of adversity to get to this point. Give us a little background on you.
WS: I started training when I was 9 years old. I'm 33 now and most people would call that a little late in the boxing game, but my background speaks for itself. I have been in there with the top amateurs. We came from Chicago, Illinois, me and my family. I got an older brother that got caught up into the gang life and the drug life and my parents decided to move us away from that, so we came here to Loraine, Ohio, about 30 minutes west of Cleveland, and that's where I picked up the boxing gloves. We got into the gym and ever since then, this is what it is. It's been up and down for me.
My life has been like some kids that grow up in the inner city. You get caught up with the partying and the women and drugs and stuff like that, and in my mid-twenties, I took a little prison stint; my most important years in boxing, as most will call it, but I held strong. I went away and did my time. I ended up getting mixed up in the drug lifestyle and I allowed the money and the fame from that to get in the way and steer me in a different direction. It was all a blessing though. God has his path for you in life and it took me to go sit it down for 5 years of life for me to evaluate myself as a man and a fighter and get back to the ring. I had 82 fights as an amateur with 7 losses. I fought all the best: Ricardo Williams, the 2007 medalist, Terrell Gausha, the 2012 Olympian from Cleveland, Ohio, Tony "The Tiger" Hanshaw, and a lot of other guys you guys heard of. But overall, I take it as a blessing.
I'm back at it as a professional. I fought my 10th fight last July, but I had an accidental headbutt in the 3rd round and under the West Virginia rules, you get a headbutt before 4 rounds is completed, it turns into a no-contest. I had every round locked in before that and I was winning the fight, but stuff happens. I took it as a lesson learned and now I'm back and ready for November 30th. It's been up and down for me, but I stay strong, I stay humble, and I pray to my Lord every night to keep me strong and to keep me going and to help me pursue my dream that I have been following since I was a kid.
PC: Like you said, your opponent is on a 5-fight winning streak. What else do you know about your opponent and what are you expecting?
WS: He's a tough fighter and he keeps coming. As far as speed, he's a little long, so I think I will have a speed advantage on him. He has a nice little jab and he's a strong fighter. He comes in wild with wild punches, so I gotta take my time and sit down on my punches and make sure they are precise and accurate and make sure I keep him off of his toes and not let him get set. I have to be first and just attack. I'm a body puncher. I come from the old school. My game plan is to get in there and do what I do and stay on top of him and pound his body out, man. I gotta make sure I take out them legs because he is a much taller opponent and he's got a little bit of reach on me, but I have worked with the best. I have been in there with Shawn Porter and Ashley Theophane, the British champion. We sparred at the Mayweather Gym a few months back before my last fight. I also did some training at the 50 Cent Gym out there in Vegas. I been in with the best, so ain't no excuses on November 30th. I train hard and I put it in every day and I stay to myself. I believe I will come out on top on November 30th.
PC: What did you take away from the training you received out there in Vegas?
WS: I got a little insight to how they get down on the west coast. I got to get into the mountains. Being from the east coast, we don't get to see much of the mountains and I got that high-altitude training. It was a great experience overall. I give a lot of thanks to Kenny and Shawn Porter, who brought me out there for Shawn's fight against Phil Lo Greco, who he decisively outclassed and defeated. I feel like I got him good and prepared. He told me that he thought the fight was easier than when we were working in the gym. Shawn is a good man and he's getting ready to fight for that title against Devon Alexander. That speaks for itself and it shows that I belong with these world-class guys.
PC: You have had a pretty busy 2013. Being that you felt you was in prison for the prime part of your career, you have to enjoy being active.
WS: Ah yeah, most definitely. When I was in there, all I thought about was getting back out here and pursuing my dream; something that I shot for as a kid. We all grew up as kids looking for some type of desire and something that's in your heart and something you want to do, and boxing is my calling. It was a little slap on the hand for me to get back to what I do and what I love to do. I'm a big Marvin Hagler fan. I loved the way he could box you, brawl you, or whatever. He would bring the style to you. I like guys like that; Chavez and Sugar Ray and those old school guys like that is who I follow and look up to. And one day, hopefully, I could be in that type of class where people say, "He took a fall in his life, but he had an amazing turn around." I just want to be an inspiration to the next kid that might be in the same shoes I was in and they can learn something from me. Sometimes in life, you take a fall, but you have to get right back up. I'm definitely ecstatic about what's going on in my life and all of the opportunities that have been presented to me.
I'm humbled now, man, and I let God open doors for me and guide me in the direction he wants me to take, and I got Eddie Gonzales pulling all of the strings for me. This guy has stayed solid with me since I have been home and he's believed in me since day one. I stood my ground, I sat it down and did my prison term, and came back stronger and better than ever. Everybody will see for themselves on November 30th. Roy Jones Jr. and TNT Promotions gave me the opportunity and they making the call and guiding me in the direction I need to take. I believe in these guys, I trust in these guys, and they see something in me, even being 33 years old. Most people think that when you go away, you're done and it's over with, but I preserved myself a lot and I continued to train and I always told myself that I would be back. I'm hungry for it now more than ever and I'm just blessed that it's coming along the way it's supposed to be.
PC: I wish you the best at the end of the month and we will talk afterwards. Is there anything you want to add?
WS: "The Hispanic Hurricane", we are on a mission, man. We climbing this ladder slowly but surely and Roy and his people are making it happen. We take them as they come. I want to thank the Almighty, the Man upstairs, who has kept me humble through all of my adversity and everything that I still deal with in life. I live through my experiences and the lessons is why I am the man that I am today. I gotta thank my family and my kids who are my pride and joy for everything that I do in life; my 4 boys, Xavier, DeAngelo, Angelo and Wilkins Jr., which was my premature one. He was a pound and a half and I watched this kid fight in an incubator for his life with tubes down his throat and everything. So if he can fight for his life at a pound and a half, I know I can fight through anything. My kids are my world. I fight for them. And my fans are very important to me; the people that come and sit their butts in them seats and cheer me on. They keep me going in life.
Everybody else that don't know me and want to know a little bit about me, I fight November 30th at the Mountaineer Casino for Roy Jones Jr. and TNT Promotions, and De La Hoya's Golden Boy Promotions is co-promoting as well. Come check us out. If anybody is interested in tickets, my number is (440) 541-1237. This is what I do and this is my job. I love what I do. Any kid going through any type of struggle, I would love to be an inspiration to them. I would love to be a motivational speaker one day as well and tell people what I've been through and let them see for themselves that it ain't always about the lights and glamor. Sometimes you gotta fight for what you truly want in life. Much love and support to FightHype as well. Mad love, baby!
[ Follow Percy Crawford on Twitter @MrFighthype ]