Rolando Romero has made his way back into Gervonta Davis’ life.
The pairing of unbeaten lightweights has been resurrected by the WBA, who has ordered a mandatory title fight between the two. Baltimore’s Davis presently holds a secondary version of the 135-pound title, while Romero has remained the number-one contender since last August.
“The World Boxing Association (WBA) Championships Committee ordered the lightweight world title fight between champion Gervonta Davis and mandatory challenger Rolando Romero,” Carlos Chavez, committee chairman announced Monday. “The pioneer body sent the formal communication to both teams. [B]oth fighters… will have 30 days, which expires next February 24, to reach an agreement.”
Davis and Romero are both under the Mayweather Promotions banner.
Davis will attempt the third defense of the belt he first claimed in a twelfth-round knockout of Yuriorkis Gamboa in December 2019. The belt was one of two divisional titles at stake in Davis’s sixth-round knockout of Leo Santa Cruz atop their October 2020 Showtime Pay-Per-View headliner, having also regained his WBA junior lightweight title.
Davis has since claimed a secondary version of the WBA junior welterweight title in an eleventh-round stoppage of unbeaten Mario Barrios last June 26, also on Showtime PPV. The fight was followed by his return to lightweight where he earned a twelve-round, unanimous decision victory over Isaac Cruz atop a December 5 Showtime PPV from Staples Center (now Crypto.com Arena) in Los Angeles.
The fight with Cruz (22-2-1, 15KOs) was made on roughly five weeks’ notice, with Mexico City’s Cruz entering the mix after Romero (14-0, 12KOs) was forced to drop out amidst a sexual assault investigation surrounding the Las Vegas native. Romero named by accuser Isabel Zambrano in a filed case last October, days after Davis and Romero traded insults during a press conference held on the outdoor grounds of Staples Center to formally announce the fight.
Romero was since cleared of all charges, as the investigators cited a lack of evidence in closing the case earlier this month.
Romero was inserted as the WBA’s number-one lightweight last August, shortly after losing his status as interim titlist when the sanctioning body removed all belts from existence. Romero held the belt for a little more than a year, claiming a twelve-round decision victory over Jackson Marinez in their August 2020 battle of unbeaten lightweights. Two fights have followed, resulting in back-to-back seventh round knockout victories which came after his scheduled opponents missed weight. Avery Sparrow accepted a fight on less than 24 hours’ notice after originally scheduled opponent Justin Pauldo badly missed weight and ultimately had to withdraw from their January 23 fight due to medical reasons. Sparrow was officially 136 pounds as the standby opponent, thus unable to fight for the interim title though not putting up much of an effort before the Showtime-televised fight was stopped 0:43 into round seven.
Former title challenger Anthony Yigit missed the lightweight limit by more than five pounds over heading into his knockout loss to Romero this past July 17 at AT&T Center in San Antonio. Romero agreed to go through with the fight, scoring three knockdowns en route to the knockout ending before soaking in a chorus of boos from the crowd on hand, in support of the undisputed junior middleweight championship between Jermell Charlo and Brian Castano.
Romero repeatedly called for a fight with Davis both before that win and during the post-fight interview. His wish was granted when the fight was formally announced last October, only to have to sit back and watch Cruz take his place while he fought to legally clear his name of what he contended all along were false accusations.
Upon the WBA’s aggressive campaign to reduce its number of recognized titlists, Davis agreed to relinquish the WBA junior lightweight title. He was permitted to retain his titles at lightweight and junior welterweight through the December 5 Showtime PPV, after which point he agreed to relinquish the 140-pound belt to remain at lightweight.
George Kambosos (20-0, 10KOs) is the recognized WBA “Super” titlist, also holding the IBF and WBO belts and also viewed as the division’s lineal champion. The unbeaten Australian earned that status following a twelve-round win over then-unbeaten champion Teofimo Lopez last November. Kambosos remains on the hunt for an opponent for his first title defense, which he hopes to have take place this spring in Australia.
Davis’ name was casually mentioned among his targeted opponents, though the southpaw knockout artist never showed any real energy toward securing such a fight. The only fight he can consider at the moment is a mandatory title defense versus Romero, as sanctioning body rules forbid boxers from entering agreements for any other fight during the assigned negotiation period once a title fight has been ordered.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox