The shorter of the two, Santiago needed to get on the inside from the start, as Shumenov boxed well and used his straighter long range shots to set and keep the pace in the first round.
The busy, awkward Shumenov upped the tempo in the second, leaving his opponent with a mouse developing under his left eye by round’s end.
Shumenov’s long reach allowed him to punish Santiago’s solar plexus often in the next couple of rounds, as Santiago found it more difficult to reach his target.
Shumenov’s confidence grew in the fifth, as head shots and jabs connected often, with Santiago overreaching and getting caught on counter shots.
Shumenov opened in the fifth, rocking Santiago, as both men traded in spots. Both fighters showed bruising as they walked back to their corners at the end of the round. It would be Shumenov’s sustained attack that secured the heat for him.
Shumenov came out with a mouse under his right eye and a small cut alongside his left eye but still countered well in the sixth frame. Santiago, now also bruised under his left eye, came out charging just to get outboxed for the majority of the round.
Santiago’s best moment came in the seventh, as a left hook over a wide right hand rocked the champion early in the round. Santiago did some dancing and posturing before getting nailed by a big Shumenov right hand. The champion kept digging to the body behind well-placed jabs to nail the round. Shumenov then used his stick to easily outbox a tired Santiago in the following round.
The end came for the 38-year-old Santiago as he unloaded early in the ninth but the champion responded with a series of 22 unanswered head-to-body-back-to-head shots. Referee Tony Weeks stepped in and called the bout at :46 of the round, marking the end of the third crack at a world title for Santiago.
Former light heavyweight champion Jean Pascal was present at ringside, challenging the WBA titleholder after the fight.
Shumenov welcomed the challenge, saying he would like for it to happen in Vegas.
In other results, Lonnie “The Black Mexican Lightning” Smith, 14-2-2 (10), stopped Tijuana, Mexico’s Eduardo “Latigo” Arcos, 16-5-1 (13), at the end of three heats in a scheduled four-round super featherweight bout.
Arcos came out swinging wide, with Smith doing the best he could to avoid the wide charges. Smith got caught with big head shots as he spent the majority of the round fighting without a mouthpiece.
Smith’s mouthpiece came out in the second as Arcos landed a big uppercut amidst some heavy exchanges in the second round. Smith landed a huge uppercut at the bell, leaving his opponent with a cut alongside his left eye.
An all-out brawl ensued in the following round, as the wide-punching Arcos landed often enough to keep up with the hook/uppercut-happy Smith throughout the stanza.
With Arcos’ cut growing in size, his corner called for the fight to be halted, with the win going Smith’s way via TKO at the end of three.
Super featherweight Joel Diaz Jr., 5-0 (4), dropped Shawn Nichol, 5-6 (5), twice en route to a stoppage win at 2:20 of the first round.