By Ryan Maquiñana
Junior featherweight Roman Morales faces his toughest challenge yet in fellow unbeaten prospect Jonathan Arrellano for a vacant 122-pound regional title this Friday at the Chumash Casino in Santa Ynez, Calif.
“We’re both undefeated, so I’ve been training my hardest to give the fans my best performance yet,” Morales told BoxingScene.com.
Morales (12-0, 6 KOs), who is fighting in his first 10-rounder, has impressed in his last two outings, a dominant decision over Alexis Santiago and a rare shutout over notoriously tough Jonathan Alcantara in August.
Arrellano (13-0-1, 3 KOs), from Ontario, Calif., has arguably faced the tougher opposition overall, having beaten Alcantara as well as formerly unbeaten Mike Ruiz Jr. and the well-traveled Jose Angel Beranza in June—all on points.
“We’ve been looking at Arrellano’s last fights, especially against Alcantara,” said Morales’s trainer and uncle, Rodolfo Tapia. “We need to go forward, make him miss, and make him pay. Arrellano is always moving back, counterpuncher.
Morales has been training both in his hometown of San Ardo, Calif., as well as a few miles north in San Carlos where he has gained valuable rounds of sparring with 122-pound unified champion Nonito Donaire.
“Nonito’s been helping me with my boxing and movement, and I’ve been coming forward like his next opponent will do,” Morales said. “It’s always great to be able to spar a great champion like him with all his experience.”
The Arrellano fight will be televised on Showtime’s “ShoBox” series, and Tapia would like to see his charge improve on his last performance on the network against Santiago.
“Last fight, he’d go to the body and got caught with a couple of shots from Santiago,” Tapia said. “If that opponent was taller, he could’ve knocked Roman down, so we’ve worked on bringing his hands back to position for his defense.”
Gary Shaw, Morales’s promoter, is keen on witness his fighter win his first 10-rounder and take the next step toward crashing the junior featherweight title picture.
“Roman Morales has proven so far to be the real deal,” Shaw said. “He comes to fight and the fans always get their money’s worth when they see him in action. He’s up against another undefeated fighter in Arrellano and both are looking to stay undefeated so this fight has fireworks written all over it.”
Not that Morales needed it, but his uncle has added a little motivation for Friday.
“I made a promise to him yesterday,” Tapia said. “We have an Astro, and if he brings me the title, we are going to paint it with his name and picture like they have for Nonito’s [Filipino FlashMobile]. I believe in Roman, and I know how hard he’s been working. He’s going to do it.”
Ryan Maquiñana writes a weekly boxing column for CSNBayArea.com. He is a full member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and the Ratings Panel for Ring Magazine. E-mail him at email@example.com , check out his blog at Norcalboxing.net, or follow him on Twitter: @RMaq28.