A decision will have to be made regarding the next challenger for newly crowned WBA junior welterweight titlist Rolando 'Rolly' Romero.

Despite his suggestion to the contrary, Romero will have little say in the process.

Special permission was granted for the Las Vegas-based boxer to challenge for the vacant WBA 140-pound title, which he claimed in a highly controversial ninth-round stoppage of number-one contender Ismael Barroso. The fight—which headlined a May 13 Showtime main event from The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas—was approved by the sanctioning body per a vote on May 9 to downgrade previous titleholder Alberto Puello to ‘Champion in Recess’ after the unbeaten Dominican tested positive for the banned substance Clomiphene.

Puello was due to face Romero in a voluntary title defense, at the time under the condition that the winner next face Barroso. The drug test result reshuffled the deck, along with specific next steps for the new title claimant—an immediate title defense versus the next mandatory challenger in line, England’s Ohara Davies.

“Mr. Barroso [was] allowed to replace Puello in the bout against Mr. Romero for the vacant WBA title [scheduled] for May 13, 2023,” WBA Championship Committee chairman Carlos Chavez noted in a written ruling obtained by BoxingScene.com. “The winner of the Romero-Barroso bout will be required to defend his title against Mr. Davies no later than 120 days from May 13, 2023.”

Romero (15-1, 13KOs) overcame a third-round knockdown and a deficit on all three scorecards to prevail in Saturday’s Showtime-televised main event. The win came under immediate fire from home viewers and the Showtime broadcast team. Romero was credited with a ninth-round knockdown that was clearly a push and a horrific stoppage call by referee Tony Weeks during a fight-ending sequence where Romero didn’t land a single clean punch.

There are already calls for a rematch, as many believe the 40-year-old Barroso (26-3-2, 22KOs) deserved to continue the fight and stood a strong chance of pulling off the upset.

The issue with that, however, is that everyone involved created a mess of the situation beginning with Romero being permitted to jump the line.

Puello (21-0, 10KOs) won the vacant WBA title in a twelve-round decision over Uzbekistan’s Batyr Akhmedov as part of an August 20 Showtime tripleheader from Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida. Barroso fought on the non-televised undercard with the promise of facing the winner.

That changed when his team accepted a step-aside package, as Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) preferred Puello to instead next face either Romero or unbeaten contender Gary Antuanne Russell (16-0, 16KOs). Puello-Romero was the eventual choice, blessed by the WBA with the condition that the winner next face Barroso whose team was furious at the time over the ruling after waiting more than a year for a mandatory title shot.

The same process called for a title eliminator between London’s Davies (25-2, 18KOs) and Spain’s Sandor Martin. That fight never came about, though Davies eventually landed a final eliminator and seized the moment in a ninth-round knockout of countryman Lewis Ritson on March 4 in Ritson’s hometown of Newcastle, England.

Davies’ name was not at all mentioned during the brief buildup to Saturday’s makeshift main event nor in the aftermath. Romero called for a rematch with Baltimore’s Gervonta Davis (29-0, 27KOs), against whom he suffered his lone defeat when he was knocked out in the sixth round of their Showtime Pay-Per-View headliner last May 28 in Brooklyn, New York. He also fancies a showdown with Ryan Garcia (23-1, 19KOs), who was knocked out by Davis in the seventh round of their April 22 Showtime PPV main event from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Anything other than the WBA honoring its written resolution will not be favorably met by Davies’ team.

“If [the WBA] don’t [order Romero-Davies], then we will proceed with legal proceedings,” Lee Eaton, Davies’ manager, told BoxingScene.com. “We [have] already been shafted by letting Rolly fight for the vacant title.

"We ain't accepting no step aside fee." 

Meanwhile, Puello will have to stand before the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NAC) during its monthly agenda hearing on Wednesday, where a final determination is expected on whether to suspend the unbeaten boxer. A suspension will result in his title status being stripped outright; any form of clearance will see him placed back in line to fight for his old title.

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox