LAS VEGAS – Rolando “Rolly” Romero had never been hit harder than Ismael Barroso hit him Saturday night.

Romero was wary of Barroso’s power prior to their WBA 140-pound title fight at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas and repeatedly told reporters that his opponent “can crack.” He learned almost immediately that everything he had heard about the Venezuelan veteran’s vaunted strength was true.

A respectful Romero (15-1, 13 KOs) admitted after his controversial ninth-round, technical-knockout victory over Barroso that the 40-year-old contender hits harder than Gervonta Davis. Baltimore’s Davis knocked out Romero in the sixth round of Romero’s previous fight.

“Way harder,” Romero told “With this dude, I felt every punch. In my arms, everything. With that dude, it’s like you just don’t wanna make mistakes.”

Davis drilled Romero with a left hand that dropped him in the sixth round last May 28 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Romero beat referee David Fields’ count, but Fields determined that the previously unbeaten Romero shouldn’t continue in their Showtime Pay-Per-View main event.

Barroso (24-4-2, 22 KOs) was slower and a lot less refined than Davis (29-0, 27 KOs), but he hit Romero with a straight left hand that dropped him in the third round. Romero again got up, but this time he regained his composure and made it to the end of the third round.

“Bro, I’m not exaggerating,” said Romero, who won the vacant WBA super lightweight title. “He hits a million times harder [than Davis]. Tank has that like quickness, where he catches you with a blind shot. This dude has a boom kinda power, where it’s like he’s hitting you with a damn sledgehammer.”

Romero remained careful after Barroso dropped him. He eventually landed a left hook that buzzed Barroso, which led to a controversial knockdown in the ninth round.

Romero pushed Barroso to the canvas, but referee Tony Weeks counted it as a knockdown. Barroso got off one knee in time to beat Weeks’ count.

Later in the ninth round, however, Weeks strangely stopped their 12-round fight while Barroso was still standing. Barroso slipped several of Romero’s punches just before Weeks stepped between them and halted the action at 2:41 of the ninth round.

The premature stoppage baffled Barroso. Even Romero admitted that his dangerous opponent should’ve been allowed to continue.

“He’s a warrior,” Romero said. “He wanted to keep fighting. I’m a warrior. I wanted to end it in spectacular fashion. But I’m not in control of what the ref does. You know, the ref saw that he was hurt. I thought he was hurt. The ref said he was hurt. He might’ve saved him from something even worse.”

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