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The Title Shot: Danny Santiago Speaks to RSR about his Boxing Career and Crack at the World Title

Exclusive Interview by Marc Anthony

“I am a student of the game.” – Danny Santiago

Danny Santiago, 31-4-1, 19 KO’s, fought his first professional boxing match on September 9th 1997 against Michael Watkins of which he won via TKO in the first round.

From that point forward, Danny went on a twenty one fight win streak. Danny would face his first professional  loss to Rocky Torres on May 11th 2002 for the WBA Fedelatin light heavyweight title.

After another loss to Orlando Rivera in August of 2002, Danny regained his winning ways and won seven straight earning him a title fight for the WBO light heavyweight title against Zsolt Erdei on January 27, 2007, he came up short and lost via TKO in the 8th round.

Once again Danny found himself fighting for the IBO light heavyweight title that same year, December 1st of 2007 against Antonio Tarver. Danny lost that fight in the 4th round via TKO. Working his way up the ranks he went on winning streaks for the both years 2009 and 2010.

Now in 2011 Danny is scheduled to fight against Beibut Shumenov for the WBA light heavyweight title on July 29th 2011 in Las Vegas.

RSR chats with Danny “The Bronx Bomber” Santiago on his upcoming title fight.

MA: Can you bring us up to date, what you have been up to?

I have been in the gym for a long time. I am not a new kid to the game, coming from the amateurs then into the pros. You get to a certain level that you have to stay in the grind. And I realized those that make it in the business stay true to the game: Keep the course no matter what. Some people lose sight of the goal. I just kept true to the game. I just kept grinding and grinding. I kept training and stayed in the gym. I opened up my own gym a few years back and it has been doing pretty well. I have also been involved in the gym but I have been training so when something comes up I would be ready for it. Here in Florida and the Bronx, I do pretty well selling tickets. They use because I sell a lot of tickets here. I sell 300-400 tickets in my gym alone. The last time I fought in Tampa, I practically sold the entire ringside in my gym because I have a lot of high end clients that come to my gym.

I have a gym based on boxing, but I do have box aerobics. My gym has over thirty bags just in one part of my building alone. It’s very nice. I have all the amenities that a fighter would need and all the amenities for people who come here to train to lose weight or get in shape. There is nothing you would need that we don’t have at our gym. I went to college but I made a decision a long time ago to make my living with the sport. I told myself that I was going to stay true to the game and that something would come up.
Roy Jones fight almost came up and I actually sparred with him when I was a young kid. But God bless I got an opportunity to fight against Beibut. I know I have 10 years on this guy and some people may ask, why do I still do this? But I still love it. I still have all my faculties intact. I still can handle business. As long as I enjoy it and it’s not a determent to my health or my family I will continue doing it and now it’s paying off. I am getting an opportunity to fight for the WBA title. One of the greatest titles out there and I feel honored. I am going be ready for it! I have been working hard.

MA: Has your team gotten any info on Beibut and your impression of him?

I have to be honest with you…I have only seen him once. I looked at something on Youtube once. I can’t consume my thoughts on one particular person. I let my coach figure out the strategy. Sometimes you expect someone to do one thing and they do something else on fight night.

Look at his credentials, in this business you are expected to be animals to a certain extent but I have to give credit where credit is due. I have been in this game for a long time. And I can tell you. Beibut and his people, KZ promotions, they are seriously a class act. Everything they have done so far it’s like a breath of fresh air. To know that these people have integrity, everything they said they were going do has come to fruition. Even with the contracts they weren’t much of haggling back and forth. They were very fair. But look at his credentials. He is a former Olympian, he become a world champion in less than ten fights. Who does that? He is not a walk in the park. Look at his body, it looks like somebody took a chisel and molded him. But I feel more than worthy to get in with him.

MA: What is your biggest motivating factor to be in the fight game?

I grew up in the south Bronx and started fighting at a very young age. I got into a little trouble here and there. Ironically enough I moved to a place called Ocala Florida, it’s basically night and day compared to the Bronx. But I got into more problems in Ocala because of the culture shock. I got into so many fights. Southern people are wonderful people but I coming from New York It might have been my attitude but I was always fighting. I never took anything from anybody. When I started boxing in a gym, it became my dream to become heavyweight champion of the world. I didn’t grow up to be that big but after a while reality sets in and I saw the reality. It’s still a dream but at the end of the day if it doesn’t make dollars it doesn’t make sense.

The dream has never been pushed to the side. I enjoy doing it. Being a kid from the south Bronx and my mom had me when she was fifteen years old, so it was a child raising a child. Whose mother didn’t finish high school? I think she did an incredible job raising me and making me the man that I am today. I have travelled the world because of boxing. I have seen places that my mother only has dreamt about. I think about that and I owe all that to boxing. It kept me off the streets. I have never tried a drug. I have never smoked a cigarette. I don’t drink, none of that stuff. I attribute all of that to boxing and my mother. The dream of boxing is to set my name in history as a world champion. Even though I have fought for the title twice, hopefully the third time is the charm. Maybe I am meant to be the bride instead of the bride’s maid. I am working hard for it and I know he is working hard for it. Just like anybody else, I would love to wake up some day or after the fight call my mother and tell her I am going take care of you from now on. I don’t need the glitz and glamour. I didn’t get into it for that. I got into it purely for the love of the game. I just love boxing. Now being a grown man I know I have to be put a roof over my head and food on the table but it just adds more of an incentive to it.

MA: This your first time fighting in Las Vegas? Will your family be traveling with you?

I was actually supposed to fight in Vegas, maybe about ten years ago and it was in the preliminary stages. I actually went to the fight and it just didn’t pan out. Not on my behalf but on the opponents behalf. It was some dilemma. I just basically got to see the fights but I didn’t get to fight. This is my first time. Of all the places I have been in the world I have never fought in Vegas. Which is also awesome? I may sound crazy but watching all the fights on TV and one of my favorite movies is THE HANGOVER, You just see all these things in Las Vegas and you just go oh my god what a dream.

My parents are coming up. My sister, I have a young sister coming up. Some people form Ocala and the Bronx are going. I am very popular in the Bronx and Florida. I would say I have 50-60 people going down so far that I have been told. They are ready to go buy tickets. Not to pat myself on my back but for some reason. But whenever there is fight near Miami people just charter a bus. The guy next door to my gym has a business and has a tour bus and he has a ticket and is driving to Vegas. Who does that? I try to treat people the same way I want to be treated.

MA: Is this the first time two boxers who are fighting for a world title are both college educated?

I am college educated and I think he is a lawyer if I am not mistaken. I like to consider myself a fairly intelligent person. Look at the Klitschkos…they are Doctors. Boxers are intelligent. Look at Oscar De La Hoya, boxers become diversified. You start learning by mistakes. I am a student of the game. I have a little bit of beef with people in the boxing game. Not necessarily the fighters but just people in the business. You never hear somebody in the mixed martial arts business, which is doing great.

I think they are an incredible asset to sports. But you don’t hear them on TV bashing the fighters or bashing the organizations or bashing the promoters. And when I look at these people in the business that are on television and color commentating, they are color commentating on a promotional card and the Promoters name is on there and the guys are bashing that promoter who they are happy to color commentate the show for. Even though they are working for the network they are still affiliated to the promoter. They are like here we are again with some fringe fighter …fighting for some alphabet title. I say listen if it wasn’t for this fighter you wouldn’t be on TV.

Not every boxer is dumb. A lot of boxers are intelligent. They just get caught up in the game and they lose sight of what they are trying to do. When I lost my fight for a world title and ran into financial trouble those things are very humbling. I think I have a better head on my shoulders because of it.

MA: What words do you live by?

One of the words I live by that my coach says all the time is that. I have been with my coach since 18 or 20 years. More than half my life, he is always telling me that the youth is wasted on the young. And the other thing is there is no reason or excuse for you not to do what you want.

Every time someone comes up and says I didn’t do that because of this… There is really no reason. If you want to do it, you can do it. I live by that and I never let anybody tell me I what I can’t do. When I was younger, I thought I could get by with my talents, the gifts I was given but it takes work and it takes dedication. It took me a little time to realize it.

I treat people the way I want to be treated.

MA: Final Message you want to say to your fans?

If could say this. I would like to thank everyone who has ever supported me. I like to apologize to anyone who has tried to help me but I disappointed and I didn’t take advantage of that help in a positive manner. I want to thank all my fans and anyone who supports boxing. They are great people.

Danny Santiago
Nickname:  “The Bronx Bomber”
Division: Light Heavyweight
Professional Record: 31-4-1 19 KO’s

2010-05-21 Billy Bailey Tampa, Florida W MD 8 8

2009-05-16 Paul Jennette Ocala, Florida W UD 8 8

2007-12-01 Antonio Tarver Connecticut, L TKO 4 12
2007-01-27 Zsolt Erdei Germany L TKO 8 12

2006-12-14 Marlon Hayes Hallandale, Florida W UD 8 8
2006-06-29 Mike Bonislawski Miami, Florida W TKO 1 8
2006-02-10 Rayco Saunders Coral Gables, Florida D PTS 6 6

2005-08-12 Rico Cason Ocala, Florida W TKO 8 12

2004-12-16 Ronald Boddie Pennsylvania W UD 8 8
2004-12-04 James Brock Little Rock, Arkansas W KO 1 8
2004-10-02 Elvir Muriqi New York, New York W TKO 4 10
2003-03-14 Robert Muhammad Florida W TKO 5 8

2002-08-29 Orlando Rivera Florida L TKO 9 10
2002-05-11 Rocky Torres Puerto Rico L TKO 11 12
2002-03-30 Tyrus Armstead Pennsylvania, W UD 10 10

2001-06-08 Antonio Garcia Miami, Florida W TKO 1 8

2000-12-15 Gerald Coleman Fort Lauderdale, Florida W TKO 7 8
2000-08-18 Roosevelt Booth Ocala, Florida W TKO 2 8
2000-06-24 David McCluskey Tennessee, United States W TKO 2 4
2000-05-20 Anthony Spain Ocala, Florida W TKO 10 12
2000-04-15 Andre Sherrod Bayboro, North Carolina W TKO 5 6

1999-10-28 Tyrone Wallace Atlanta, Georgia W TKO 3
1999-09-10 James Stokes Ocala, Florida W KO 3 8
1999-06-18 Shannon Miller Ocala, Florida W UD 6 6
1999-05-15 Johnny Walker Augusta, Georgia W TKO 1
1999-04-17 Gregg Floyd Kissimmee, Florida W KO 2 6
1999-03-19 Mack Willis Ocala, Florida W PTS 6 6
1999-02-27 Larry McFadden Augusta, Georgia W KO 1
1999-01-14 Eric Rhinehart Virginia, W TKO 2

1998-11-20 Anthony DeBardaladin Ocala, Florida W UD 4 4
1998-08-22 Ralph Monday Orlando, Florida W UD 4 4
1998-07-11 Forrest McFarland Allentown, Pennsylvania W UD 4 4
1998-06-05 Calvin Smith Kissimmee, Florida W TKO 2 4
1998-02-13 Cleveland Issacs Philadelphia, Pennsylvania W UD 4 4

1997-11-25 James Mullins Nashville, Tennessee W UD 4 4
1997-09-06 Michael Watkins Orlando, Florida, W TKO 1 5

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