By Francisco Salazar
Miguel 'Mikey' Roman battered Nery Saguilan for 11-plus rounds, eventually getting the stoppage victory in round 12 late Saturday night at the Gimnasio Municipal 'Jose Neri Santos' in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico.
Roman improves to 59-12, with 44 KOs, while Saguilan drops to 38-9-1, with 13 KOs.
Saturday marked the return of Roman since his 12th round knockout loss to Takashi Miura on January 28 in Indio, California. Roman was in the fight early on before he was dropped three times late in the fight.
The loss to Miura snapped an 18-bout winning streak for Roman, who resides in Ciudad Juarez.
Saguilan, a former lightweight contender, entered the Roman fight having lost three of his previous four bouts.
Both fighters went at one another from the opening bell, carrying over bad blood and trash-talk that led up to the fight. Not know for his knockout power, Saguilan chose to trade in the pocket with Roman during the first two rounds, but Roman's aggression and power began to break Saguilan down.
By the midway point of the fight, Saguilan was receiving a great deal of punishment, especially when his back was against the ropes. Roman ripped numerous unanswered punches, which Saguilan would take, but only responded with one or two of his own.
Sensing he was down on the cards, Saguilan spent more time playing to the crowd, whether it was a punch landed from Roman or following Roman back to his corner at the conclusion of a round.
Saguilan was in survival mode during the final two rounds and the accumulation of punches he received from Roman earlier in the fight began to take their tool. A left hook to the stomach by Roman dropped Saguilan less than a minute into round 12. Saguilan stood up, but was dropped by a left hook to the head moments later, prompting referee Rocky Burke to stop the bout at 1:10.
"I have a lot of respect for 'Pantera' (Saguilan)," said Roman after the fight. "He took a lot of punishment. He won my respect. I was a little worried because I kept landing punches and he wouldn't go down. He didn't throw any punches. I was getting tired from the amount of punches I was throwing."
Roman did fight for a regional lightweight title, so it will be interesting to see whether he stays at lightweight or moves down to 130 pounds, where he is still ranked in the top 10 by major sanctioning bodies.
Saguilan reportedly said he would retire if he lost to Roman.
In the co-feature bout, junior lightweight Eduardo Hernandez remained unbeaten, knocking out Rolando Magbanua of the Philippines in the opening round.
Hernandez, who is only 19 years of age, improves to 23-0-3, with 19 KOs. Magbanua falls to 26-6, with 18 KOs.
A left hook to the body dropped Magbanua to one knee. Magbanua winced in pain as he remained on one knee as referee Rocky Burke counted him out at 2:24.
Bantamweight Karim Arce (11-0, with 4 KOs), the 18-year-old nephew of Jorge 'Travieso' Arce, won a six round decision over Edgar Martinez (18-16-1, with 10 KOs).
Francisco A. Salazar has written for Boxingscene.com since September of 2012 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (Calif.) Star newspaper, RingTV.com, and Knockout Nation. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing