Boxer Santiago coming of age in the ring

Posted: February 06, 2014

PHILADELPHIA boxing legend Bernard Hopkins was 23 when he landed his first professional fight. Rising star Danny Garcia, of North Philly, was 19 years. On Friday, night, 17-year-old Milton "El Santo" Santiago, of Warminster, will make his pro debut.

Santiago is taking on Moses Molina at the National Guard Armory on Southampton Road in Northeast Philadelphia.

Pennsylvania does not allow fighters under 18 to become professionals, but the State Athletic Commission waived the rule on the grounds that Santiago boasts a 184-12 amateur record. He is the first 17-year-old in the state's history to turn pro.

"It feels great," Santiago said of turning pro. "It is an honor. It is a blessing. I can't wait to go in there and show the world what I can do."

Santiago has been around boxing for a long time, even though he is not even old enough to cast a vote. He had his first fight when he was 8.

"My dad used to tell me I was a real little kid, and he used to take me to the gym," Santiago said. "I used to run around and hit the bags once in a while. Before you know it, I got really serious with it, and kept going with it since."

He took a break from boxing when he was 9, but picked it up again a year later and has been serious about it ever since.

Even though he has had 196 bouts, he said he will be nervous when he steps through the ropes on Friday.

"Everybody gets a little nervous their first [pro] fight," Santiago said. "As soon as I get in there, I will be fine. After the first punch, I won't be nervous anymore. I'm just going to go in there and take care of business."

After he takes care of business on Friday, he sees himself in the sport for years to come. He is planning a career in boxing, whether it is fighting, or starting his own promotion company.

It all begins Friday on a card that features up-and-coming fighters such as Emmanuel Foley, Sultahn Staton, Frank Trader, Antonio Dubose, Anthony Flores and Seifullah Jihad Wise preceding his fight. Congressman Bob Brady will be the special guest ring announcer.

Doors open at the Armory at 6:30 p.m., with the first bout starting at 7:30. Tickets can be purchased through Ticketmaster.

|
|
|
|
|