Daniel Roman is determined to win back his titles.
To remain in position to earn an opportunity to regain those championships from Murodjon Akhmadaliev, the former IBF/WBA 122-pound champ must get past Juan Carlos Payano. Los Angeles’ Roman and Miami’s Payano are set to meet Saturday night on the Jermell Charlo-Jeison Rosario undercard at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.
“That’s the goal of the team, you know, but I’m not overlooking Payano,” Roman said during a virtual press conference. “Payano is a great fighter, a quality fighter, like I said, and I’m not overlooking him. First, we’ve gotta get past him. And then, hopefully, we can get the rematch with [Akhmadaliev] and get those titles back.”
Uzbekistan’s Akhmadaliev (8-0, 6 KOs) beat Roman (27-3-1, 10 KOs) by split decision in a 12-rounder January 30 in Miami to win those junior featherweight titles. Akhmadaliev defeated Roman on two scorecards, but their fight was very competitive (115-113, 115-113, 113-115).
The 30-year-old Roman had won 19 straight bouts before Akhmadaliev beat him.
The Roman-Payano winner will earn a shot at the WBC super bantamweight title because their 12-rounder is a WBC eliminator. The winner of another upcoming WBC elimination match, Carlos Castro-Christopher Diaz on October 24 in Las Vegas, will be recognized as the WBC’s first mandatory challenger for its 122-pound championship.
Unbeaten Mexicans Luis Nery (30-0, 24 KOs) and Aaron Alameda (25-0, 13 KOs) will square off for the vacant WBC 122-pound crown on the same Showtime Pay-Per-View undercard on which Roman and Payano will fight September 26. Mexico’s Rey Vargas (34-0, 22 KOs) has been named the WBC’s super bantamweight champion in recess because he is recovering from a broken leg and will be sidelined for an extended period of time.
The Dominican Republic’s Payano (21-3, 9 KOs) has lost by knockout in two of his past three bouts. Those losses came against elite opponents – Nery and Japanese star Naoya Inoue (19-0, 16 KOs), the IBF/WBA bantamweight champ – but Roman is favored to beat the 36-year-old former WBA bantamweight champ.
“He lost with big names, with quality fighters,” Roman said. “So, I mean, a fight’s a fight, you know? Anything can happen in a fight, so I’m getting ready for that. I’m getting ready to fight the best of Payano.
“I’m not taking him lightly. You know? I’m taking him serious, like if I was defending the belt, [like] I was fighting a world champion.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.