Daniel Roman feels like a forgotten fighter.
The former IBF/WBA 122-pound champion appreciates the six-figure purse he’ll collect for a fight Showtime will televise Saturday night. But when the network released its extended schedule of fights last month, Roman noticed that the winner of the main event Saturday night between Luis Nery and Brandon Figueroa is slated to box unbeaten WBO champion Stephen Fulton on September 11.
The problem, according to Roman, is that he became the WBC’s mandatory challenger for Nery’s super bantamweight title by beating Juan Carlos Payano on September 26 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. Roman expected his 12-round, unanimous-decision victory over Payano to lead to a shot at Nery’s title, yet the Nery-Figueroa winner is tentatively scheduled to compete in back-to-back championship unification fights.
Roman must overcome Mexico’s Ricardo Espinoza in Showtime’s co-feature Saturday night to remain in championship contention. Assuming the favored Roman wins, he wants his title shot sooner rather than later.
“I know they’ve got the schedule already set up for the winner of them against Fulton in September,” Roman told BoxingScene.com. “But you can’t skip me. I’m the mandatory for the WBC. They have to give me the chance – I earned it. I won the mandatory [position] back in September, so I’m still here. I don’t know why they’re skipping me already.”
Roman is ranked second among the WBC’s 122-pound contenders, one spot beneath top-ranked Carlos Castro.
By beating the Dominican Republic’s Payano (21-5, 9 KOs) in a WBC elimination match, however, Roman (28-3-1, 10 KOs) earned one of two mandatory defenses Tijuana’s Nery is required to make of the WBC belt because Nery won a vacant title when he out-pointed countryman Aaron Alameda (25-1, 13 KOs) on September 26. Phoenix’s Castro (26-0, 11 KOs) has not yet participated in the WBC eliminator he must win to solidify his title shot.
Los Angeles’ Roman lost his IBF and WBA belts to Uzbekistan’s Murodjon Akhmadaliev (9-0, 7 KOs), who edged Roman by split decision 15 months ago in Miami. Akhmadaliev hasn’t shown any interest in granting Roman a rematch, which only makes Roman’s WBC mandatory predicament more bothersome to the former champion.
“It is frustrating because I wanna get back on top, where I was before,” Roman said. “So, every time they’re avoiding me, what’s going on, you know? Because when I was the champion, I was fighting all the mandatories that I had to fight [including Akhmadaliev]. And now, these guys are avoiding me.”
The 31-year-old Roman wouldn’t pick Nery (31-0, 24 KOs) or Figueroa (21-0-1, 14 KOs), but he obviously will keep a close eye on their main event after he encounters Espinoza at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California.
“It’ll be a great fight,” Roman said. “Both of the fighters, hopefully they’ll come in great shape. Figueroa brings pressure and Nery brings pressure, too. So, it’ll be a clash that night. Let the best man win and give me the winner of that fight.”
Before Showtime airs the 10-round, 122-pound bout between Roman and Espinoza (25-3, 21 KOs), it’ll open its three-fight telecast at 10 p.m. ET with another 10-rounder. In that junior lightweight bout, Sacramento’s Xavier Martinez (16-0, 11 KOs) will meet Mexico’s Juan Carlos Burgos (34-4-2, 21 KOs).
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.