MIAMI--The one thing that hurt Daniel Roman more than the shoulder injury suffered during training camp was the realization that he had to pull out of a scheduled fight.
A planned unified junior featherweight title defense versus Uzbekistan’s Murodjon Akhmadaliev (7-0, 6KOs) was delayed by four months, as Roman recovered from what was ultimately diagnosed as tendinitis in his left shoulder. It was enough to cause him to shut down sparring and have to stay away from physical contact for nearly two months—but apparently wasn’t enough to convince his opponent of it being the real reason for the postponement.
“It was the first time in my career that I had to pull out of a fight, and I even had medical proof,” Roman (27-2-1, 10KOs) told BoxingScene.com ahead of their rescheduled rematch, which airs on DAZN from Meridian at Island Gardens in Miami, Florida (Thursday, 7:00pm ET). “That’s never happened to me before, my mind wasn’t listening to my body that we weren’t fighting in September any longer.
“So to read what Akhmadaliev and [manager Vadim Korniov] had to say—it made me realize, they just didn’t understand how much having to [postpone] that fight hurt my pride.”
Fully recovered and armed with the equivalent of a second training camp, Roman is ready to make the fifth overall defense of at least one title and his first as a unified titlist. The 29-year old Los Angeles native has been out of the ring since earning that latter status with his thrilling 12-round win over TJ Doheny last April. The fight drew rave reviews as one of the year’s very best and with its winner all too eager to build on that momentum.
The little bit of trash talk from his opponent helped fill the gap, though now it’s all about reminding the boxing world of his place among the best of the 122-pound division.
“When they started that talk about me ducking him and faking the injury, it annoyed me a little bit,” recalls Roman. “I heard what they had to say and while I was recovering, I used that as motivation.
“Now, it’s just talk. He’ll have to back it up in the ring.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox