By Steve Kim Updated on October 19, 2023

Rocha at the Forum

Picture for Rocha at the Forum

On the night of September 10, 2016, Roman Gonzalez battled Carlos Cuadras over 12 hard fought rounds at the Forum to capture the WBC junior flyweight title. In the audience that night was Alexis Rocha, who just six months earlier had made his pro debut at the Belasco Theatre.

This Saturday night, Rocha (23-1, 15 KOs) headlines at this very same venue that sits on Manchester Blvd in Inglewood, California against fellow welterweight contender, Giovanni Santillan (31-0, 16 KOs).

Rocha admits that the thought of headlining such ''a historical place'' had never really crossed his mind. For years, the Forum was the hub of Southern California boxing, and was the home of Forum Boxing (that produced the likes of Juan Manuel and Rafael Marquez, Mark 'Too Sharp' Johnson, Humberto Gonzalez and Marco Antonio Barrera.)

Picture for Rocha at the ForumGolden Boy Promotions

Now, it's just a sporadically used building for boxing, but the fact that Golden Boy Promotions is here this weekend is proof of his steady development as a fighter.

"It was just a rush of emotions, happiness," he said of reaction to finding out that the Forum would be hosting this upcoming bout. "A lot of hard work is paying off. I know I just have to keep doing what I'm doing. The sky's the limit."

In recent years, the native of Santa Ana, was a last minute headliner at the USC Galen Center, and back in January he faced George Ashie at the YouTube Theater (which is located adjacent to SoFi Stadium), and his last bout was staged at the Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio. Each time, he brought along a throng of his followers from Orange County.

Picture for Rocha at the ForumGolden Boy Promotions 

As for this event, Rocha says, "Oh, it's going to be a packed house, I guarantee that. A lot of people are doing to come out and show support. I'm just very grateful for people supporting me in general. Whether it's Santa Ans, Orange County, San Diego, Los Angeles, all of Southern California, even Mexico City.

Since his lone loss to Rashidi Ellis in the fall of 2020, Rocha has steadily improved as he was put on a steady diet of fights from Golden Boy. This weekends bout will mark his eighth bout since that defeat. He is now the top rated welterweight in the WBO (whos belt is held by undisputed champion, Terence Crawford) and number five in the Ring Magazine ratings.

This activity has had an impact on Rocha, who explained to, "I'm more calm in the ring, more experienced now. It's really coming smooth to me. I used to be real nervous in the ring, and then outside with the whole media. People coming up to me, just the interviews. I'm just getting used to it."

Hector Lopez, who has trained Rocha from the very beginning, and also manages him, believes activity has been vital to his fighters sharpness. It's also allowed him to work Rocha less in the gym and spar less than before. At times, being more active means taking a bit less money. "Sometimes you have to look at a year down the road. It's just not about now," explained Lopez, who firmly believes that a 26 year old boxer should be performing more than twice a year. 

Picture for Rocha at the ForumGolden Boy Promotions

Sometimes that's a hard concept to sell to young boxers, but Lopez says that his long relationship has built a trust between the two. Then there is the working relationship with Golden Boy, who has made Rocha more of a priority, recently.

"When you get to a certain level, dates don't become available so easily, especially when you're a 10 or 12 round fighter. It's extremely, extremely difficult," said Lopez. "I've been very blessed and fortunate that Golden Boy gave us all these dates."

And the recent schedule, in the view of Lopez, gives them the edge against Santillan.

"Honestly, that's why I give ourselves the best chance to win. We have the better fighter, longer, faster, taller, better technique," he stated. "I mean, Giovanni, is as tough as nails, don't get me wrong. But we've been active when he's fought what, two or three times in the last few years?"

(For the record, Santillan has fought just three times since the beginning of 2022 coming into this contest on Saturday night.)

Picture for Rocha at the ForumGolden Boy Promotions

There was some talk of Rocha facing Terence Crawford before he ended up negotiating his deal to face Spence in July. There is a chance that 'Bud' could be moving up, which means that there will be four vacant belts. Rocha believes he is more than ready for a title shot. 

"Yeah, but first things first," he stated. "I've got to handle business Saturday night, and I do think I'm in line for a title shot. That's inevitable."



I'm sure you've heard by now that Showtime will be out of the boxing business at the end of 2023. So after 37 years, their run, which began with Marvelous Marvin Hagler-John Mugabi, will come to an end. I'm told that they will be doing a send-off card in December that will feature the likes of Danny Garcia and Keith Thurman. 

I'll have more to say about the Showtime boxing franchise (which quite frankly has seen better days) in the upcoming months. In the last five years, HBO and Showtime have shut down it's boxing programming. 

Picture for Rocha at the Forum

Mike Coppinger of ESPN got this statement from Paramount Global:

"As we evolve our strategy to more efficiently allocate resources and align our content offering across the business, we've made the difficult decision not to move forward with boxing and other content produced by the SHOWTIME sports team.

"SHOWTIME will continue to air and support the remaining 2023 boxing slate and honor obligations through the end of the year. We want to express our deepest gratitude to our employees who have contributed to this award-winning sports programming over multiple decades."




'the 3 Knockdown Rule' with Mario Lopez and I is back, and we discuss the news regarding Showtime, and all things boxing. Click on the Linktree to subscribe on your preferred podcast platform:



Jack Catterall faces Jorge Linares from Liverpool, England on DAZN on Saturday afternoon...In a surprise announcement, IBF bantamweight champion, Emmanuel Rodriguez, announced his retirement in a Facebook post....Leigh Wood has vacated his WBA 126-pound title....Is Deontay Wilder not going to fight this year?....Can Penn St. beat Ohio St. in 'the Horseshoe'?...I can be reached at



About Author
Rocha at the Forum
  • Hosted 'the Main Event' on KIEV 870, and then later XTRA AM1150 ( a three hour show devoted to boxing) from 1996 to 1999.
  • Joined one of the first boxing websites, 'House of Boxing' in 1999, and then later became one of the founders of Maxboxing, that started in 2001, till his departure in 2014.
  • From 2014 to 2018, he was the lead columnist for
  • Was a boxing reporter for from 2018 to 2020.
  • He has written for Ring Magazine, International Boxing Digest and Boxing News.
  • Is the co-host of 'the 3 Knockdown Rule' with Mario Lopez, which has become of the most popular boxing podcasts the past several years.
  • Steve has also served as an announcer and analyst for RingTV, Thompson Boxing, 360 Promotions and CBS Sports Network.