UNCASVILLE, Connecticut – Daniel Roman overcame a slow start Saturday night to beat Juan Carlos Payano.

Roman won their 12-round, 122-pound WBC elimination match by unanimous decision in the fourth fight of Showtime Pay-Per-View’s event at Mohegan Sun Arena. Judges Kevin Morgan, David Sutherland and Don Trella all scored the fight 116-112 for Los Angeles’ Roman, who won by bigger margins than the action appeared to warrant.

The 36-year-old Payano (21-4, 9 KOs) got off to a strong start and consistently countered Roman, even while mostly boxing off his back foot. Roman turned up the pressure in the final few rounds, but CompuBox still counted 109 more punches overall for Payano (261-of-804 to 152-to-633).

The 30-year-old Roman (28-3-1, 10 KOs) still won his first fight since Uzbekistan’s Murodjon Akhmadaliev (8-0, 6 KOs) edged him by a 12-round split decision to win the IBF and WBA 122-pound championships January 30 in Miami. Akhmadaliev ended Roman’s 19-fight winning streak.

Payano hadn’t fought since Luis Nery knocked him out in the ninth round of their July 2019 bout at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

Roman’s hard jab backed Payano into the ropes just before the midway mark of the 12th round. Payano went down just as the fight ended, but referee Johnny Callas called it a slip after Roman’s short, left hook knocked Payano into the ropes.

That sequence should’ve counted as a knockdown for Roman because the ropes kept Payano from falling to the canvas.

Payano stood his ground at times in the 11th round, yet Roman out-landed him in those three minutes.

Roman out-landed Payano during the 10th round, when Payano appeared to wear down. A right hand by Roman clipped Payano as he tried to fight out of a corner in that round.

Sensing he was behind, Roman threw more punches in the ninth round. He couldn’t hurt Payano, even with the flush left uppercut he landed during that round.

An aggressive Payano unloaded power punches on Roman near Roman’s corner early in the eighth round. Roman made Payano move backward later in the eighth, but his aggression was ineffective.

Payano kept fighting well off his back foot in the seventh round. Roman landed a lead right hand late in the seventh.

Payano’s left to Roman’s body connected with under a minute remaining in the sixth round.

Payano caught Roman with a short, right hook in an exchange that occurred with just under a minute to go in the fifth round.

Payano landed a right hook with about 1:15 to go in the fourth round. Roman’s right hand connected when he had Payano backed into a corner late in the fourth.

Roman kept pressuring Payano in the third round. Sometime before the midway mark of the third, a cut opened above Payano’s left eye.

Payano landed three hard, left hands to Roman’s body during the final minute of the third round. Those shots slowed down Roman.

Roman kept Payano on his back foot for most of the second round, when the accurate technician caught Payano with several right hands. 

Payano and Roman traded in the center of the ring just before the halfway point of the opening round. Payano’s left-right combination caught Roman with about 15 seconds to go in that first round.

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.