Two-time Dominican Olympian, lightweight Leonel de los Santos (6-0, 5 KOs), may be settling in the Boston area to enhance his professional boxing career. In fact, he recently spent a month there preparing for his last fight, which resulted in a win by way of a 6-round decision this past March in his native Dominican Republic.
Santos’ manager, Ryan Roach, lives in Boston and he introduced his undefeated lightweight to trainer Alex Rivera, and that paid immediate dividends in terms of improvement.
Santos, 26, trained at the Somerville Boxing Club under Rivera, who trains 26-0 welterweight Rashidi Ellis, who Santos sparred with several times, and US Olympian Rashida Ellis, Rashidi’s sister.
“The conditions at our training camp in Boston were very good,” Santos said. “I learned a lot of new things about professional boxing from Alex in just a short time, especially my defense about dodging smaller boxers. He really helped my performance in my last fight.
Rivera only worked with Santos two weeks, but the two connected right away.
“Leonel is a good boxer with a lot of experience,” Rivera remembered. “He has speed and power. We worked on making him more technically sound. It’s about hitting without being hit. He is very tall for his weight class – 5’ 8’ or 5’ 9” – with a good reach. We got along right away, and it was like we had been working together for a long time. I think he can make some noise with his amateur background. He has all the tools. Reminds me a little of Ryan Garcia: tall and strong for his weight class. Leonel has what it takes.
“I wasn’t with Leonel for his last fight, but I did watch some highlights. The guy he fought (Andres Bens Zapata) could really take a punch. Leonel’s hands were swollen after the fight from hitting his opponent so much. Leonel hit him with everything he had. I noticed how his defense and distance had improved. That’s what we worked on. He kept his distance and had a clean fight.”
Santos, who has relatives living in nearby Lawrence, MA, is applying for a work visa to train with Rivera.
“I think training with Alex vastly improved Leonel’s boxing and timing,” Santos’ manager Roach added. “Alex worked a lot on distance, which will lead to more power behind his shots. I saw big changes in Leonel’s last fight. He applied the skills he learned with Alex, and I look forward to more.”
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