LAS VEGAS – Osmiri Fernandez was bewildered by Tony Weeks’ premature stoppage of Ismael Barroso’s fight against Rolando “Rolly” Romero on Saturday night.
Barroso’s trainer/manager informed BoxingScene.com after his contender’s controversial ninth-round, technical-knockout defeat that WBA president Gilberto Jesus Mendoza told him Barroso deserves an immediate rematch. The WBA’s championship committee could order Romero to make his first title defense against Barroso, but Romero isn’t obligated to follow the WBA’s mandate.
North Las Vegas’ Romero (15-1, 13 KOs) could relinquish the WBA super lightweight title and pursue other options. Regardless, Fernandez and Barroso’s promoter, Laura Ching, plan to officially petition the WBA to order a Romero-Barroso rematch.
“[Romero] should be made to have a rematch,” Fernandez told BoxingScene.com through a translator. “If not, he should have the title stripped away from him. Don’t get me wrong, Rolly has no blame in this whatsoever. It’s just that I feel that he was gifted the title.”
Venezuela’s Barroso (24-4-2, 22 KOs), who dropped Romero in the third round, was ahead on all three scorecards when Weeks weirdly stepped between them and declared Romero the winner by TKO at 2:41 of the ninth round at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.
Romero recorded a knockdown after hurting Barroso with a left hook early in the ninth round. The newly crowned champion pushed Barroso to the canvas after hurting him, but Weeks still called it a knockdown.
Barroso slipped most of Romero’s punches later in the ninth round and grazed Romero with a right hand just before Weeks decided to stop their scheduled 12-round fight.
“I can accept that the knockdown was a push,” Fernandez said. “They wanna call it a knockdown? OK, whatever. But [with the stoppage], the rules state that you have to be willing to follow the guidelines in order to stop the fight. You can’t just run in and stop the fight like that. We saw that Barroso was the one punching him, not the other way around. When we were in the locker room, that’s what was so frustrating for us, because we couldn’t understand where the decision came from. That’s what rips you apart, really.”
Fernandez recalled that Weeks didn’t answer him in the ring when he asked the veteran referee why he stopped the fight. In search of answers, Fernandez spoke to Mendoza soon after the controversial conclusion to their “Showtime Championship Boxing” main event.
“We talked to the WBA president,” Fernandez said, “and he said, yeah, he should get a rematch right away because it was a travesty. And then, when you see the cards and that he was winning unanimously, and that the people here saw that he was winning, if everyone sees it but the ref, then there’s something to it, right?”
Judges Tim Cheatham (76-75), David Sutherland (77-74) and Steve Weisfeld (78-73) all had Barroso ahead entering the ninth round.
The WBA mandated when it sanctioned Romero-Barroso as a fight for its vacant WBA super lightweight title that the winner would have to make his first defense against its second-ranked contender, England’s Ohara Davies (24-2, 18 KOs), within 120 days of Saturday night.
The fifth-ranked Romero was supposed to challenge Alberto Puello for the WBA 140-pound crown Saturday night. Barroso, who was the WBA’s mandatory challenger, replaced Puello last month because the undefeated Dominican southpaw tested positive for clomiphene, a banned substance, in tests administered by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association.
The WBA changed Puello’s status to champion in recess while it awaits the result of his B sample submitted to VADA. It will strip Puello if his B sample comes back positive for clomiphene, which typically is prescribed to women who struggle with fertility.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.