Giovani Santillan to Fight Brian Norman Jr. in Battle of Unbeaten Welterweights at Pechanga Arena San Diego LIVE on ESPN

San Diego-born welterweight contender Giovani “Gallo De Oro” Santillan has an opponent for his homecoming. The WBO No. 1-ranked fighter at 147 pounds will take on fellow unbeaten Brian Norman Jr. in a 12-round showdown on Saturday, May 18 at Pechanga Arena.

Santillan-Norman will be the co-feature to the vacant WBO lightweight title tilt between Mexican three-division world champion Emanuel “Vaquero” Navarrete and Ukraine’s Denys Berinchyk.

And, in the eight-round televised opener, heavyweight knockout artist Richard Torrez Jr. (9-0, 9 KOs) returns against an opponent to be named. Torrez fought last Friday on the Oscar Valdez-Liam Wilson/Seniesa Estrada-Yokasta Valle card in Glendale, Arizona, stopping Don Haynesworth in the opening round.

“Brian Norman Jr. is a highly skilled young fighter,” Santillan said. “I get so much motivation from my city, and fighting at Pechanga Arena is always special. May 18 will be a great night, and I can’t wait to give my fans another victory.”

Norman said, “This is the big fight I have been waiting for. It’s time to show the world what I’m about.”

Santillan (32-0, 17 KOs) upset Alexis Rocha last October to earn the WBO No. 1 ranking. He returns to Pechanga Arena, the site of two of his greatest triumphs. In October 2021, Santillan notched a 10-round decision over Angel Ruiz on the Navarrete-Joet Gonzalez undercard. The following August, he turned away the game Julio Luna on the Navarrete-Eduardo Baez bill. He hopes to make it three for three in front of the hometown fans. Norman (25-0, 19 KOs), a former U.S. amateur star, is a six-year pro taking a sizable step up in class. He went 3-0 in 2023, capping off the year with a one-sided verdict over Quinton Randall on the Shakur Stevenson-Edwin De Los Santos card in Las Vegas. Norman made his 2024 debut in March, fighting to a no contest with Janelson Bocachica after Bocachica suffered a severe cut on his forehead.

In undercard action, streaming live and exclusively on ESPN+:

  • Lightweight phenom Emiliano Fernando Vargas (9-0, 7 KOs) will see action in a six-rounder, Alan “Kid Kansas” Garcia (12-0, 10 KOs) returns in an eight-rounder at lightweight, and Robert Garcia-trained junior welterweight Art Barrera Jr. (4-0, 4 KOs) looks to make it five straight in a four-rounder. Vargas, Garcia, and Barrera were all victorious on March 29 in Glendale, Arizona.
  • Bay Area lightweight prospect Charlie Sheehy (9-0, 5 KOs) takes on Manuel Jaimes (15-1-1, 11 KOs) in an eight-rounder. Sheehy is coming off February’s shutout decision over Abdel Sauceda, while James has won three in a row since the lone defeat of his career.
  • Junior lightweight prospect Jonathan Lopez (14-0, 10 KOs) looks to break the four-fight winning streak of Mexican veteran Edgar Ortega (14-2-2, 7 KOs) in an eight-rounder. Lopez, who is trained by Eddy Reynoso, went 5-0 in 2023 and defeated Eduardo Baez via 10-round decision last June.
  • San Diego-born lightweight Jonny Mansour will make his highly anticipated pro debut in a four-rounder. Mansour was a top amateur, winning a National Golden Gloves crown in 2023 and capturing a 2020 National Championships silver medal.