On January 9, 2015 at the Chumash Casino in Santa Ynez, California, Santa Barbara native Francisco Santana (22-3-1 / 11 by KO) won the vacant WBA International welterweight championship belt with a first round knockout over previously unbeaten Kendal Mena (20-1 / 11 by KO).
It didn’t last long, but it was a beauty with Chia scoring a first knockdown one minute and twelve seconds into the round. Thirty seconds later came the knockout, a picture perfect left hook as referee Jack Reiss didn’t even have to count with Mena flat on his back, out cold on the canvas.
The fight was shown on ESPN2 Friday Night Fights with a large viewing audience, and because of the spectacular knockout, it made the ESPN Sports Center “top ten” highlight reel that night of top sports events.
I have known Francisco Santana since he was a kid starting his boxing at the local Primo Boxing Club. In 2001 when I promoted WBC super bantamweight champion Willie Jorrin to Santa Barbara for a public workout and autograph signing, we let Chia, then 14 years old, spar a couple of rounds with the champ. It was surely a delight for the hometown crowd that came out that day in support.
Chia has certainly captured a world wide crowd with his dedication and focus on what he does second best – the first being a loving husband and father – and that is boxing!