There’s one name, Rolando Romero reminds you, that the prominent group of young, elite lightweights “never” mention.
Amid all the trash talk exchanged on Instagram, Twitter and other social media platforms, it hasn’t been difficult during recent months to find evidence of unbeaten lightweights Gervonta Davis, Ryan Garcia, Devin Haney and Teofimo Lopez degrading each other. Romero, who considers Lopez a friend, noticed none of them mentioned him.
The unbeaten Romero has only 11 professional fights and has not yet been exposed even to hardcore boxing fans the way those fighters have been showcased. Unlike Davis (WBA), Haney (WBC) and Lopez (IBF), he doesn’t own a lightweight title, either.
Those aren’t the reasons, according to the Las Vegas native, that his contemporaries aren’t calling him out.
“Look, those people, they ain’t gonna say anything to me because they’re all terrified of me,” Romero told BoxingScene.com. “They’re not gonna say anything to me. They’re not gonna say they’re gonna be able to beat me. They’re gonna keep me out of the party. But you know what? I always show up to the party uninvited, so it doesn’t matter. I don’t wait for no invitation to no party. They ain’t gonna call me out. They ain’t gonna do any of that stuff because I’m the biggest risk in that division.”
The 24-year-old Romero, who is promoted by Floyd Mayweather’s company, contends that sparring sessions with all of the aforementioned fighters other than Davis have given them reasons to avoid fighting him.
“We all know what’s gonna happen when I get in there with all them bigger guys,” Romero said. “They’re gonna get hurt really bad and they’re gonna get knocked out. To me, that’s not gonna change, regardless of who I fight. I’m the big, bad wolf in my division, and everyone at the top knows that. Every single person at the top knows that. They’ve been in the ring with me. And we all know what happened – they all know what happened.”
Romero’s supreme confidence comes mostly from his superior power, which has led to him knocking out all but one of his pro opponents since he debuted in December 2016. The former judo standout suspects he has been blessed yet cursed by being so heavy-handed.
Romero, more known by the nickname “Rolly,” feels his vaunted power is why he doesn’t have more fights overall and hasn’t faced more prominent opponents 3½ years into his pro career.
An undaunted Jackson Marinez didn’t hesitate to sign a contract to fight Romero (11-0, 10 KOs) on Saturday night. They’ll fight for the WBA’s interim lightweight title in the second of three bouts Showtime will televise from Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT).
The winner will become one of four WBA 135-pound champions.
Ukraine’s Vasiliy Lomachenko (14-1, 10 KOs), who will box Lopez (15-0, 12 KOs) on October 17 in Las Vegas, is the WBA’s “super” lightweight champion. Baltimore’s Davis (23-0, 22 KOs) owns the WBA’s “world” lightweight championship.
France’s Yvan Mendy (44-5-1, 22 KOs, 1 NC) holds the WBA’s gold lightweight title as well.
Nevertheless, Romero considers this an important moment in his development.
The son of an accomplished amateur boxer from Cuba, Romero had just 35 amateur fights after turning to boxing at the late age of 16. This will be just his 47th boxing match overall.
He predicted an early, brutal knockout of the Dominican Republic’s Marinez (19-0, 7 KOs), an unknown, unproven contender who is trained by Robert Garcia.
“I’m just gonna show everyone what’s supposed to have been happening, what people have been waiting for me to show,” Romero said. “I’m gonna get my first belt. I ain’t never fought a 10-rounder. I fought one eight-rounder, and it lasted two rounds. And I’m going straight to 12. I ain’t wasting no time. I’m gonna dominate this entire sport, I’m gonna dominate my division, and everyone can see it. I might be the hardest puncher up to 147 pounds. I know I’m the hardest puncher between ’35 and ’40. I may be the hardest puncher up to ’47.”
Romero has boxed beyond the fourth round only once, when he shut out Javier Martinez (4-7, 3 KOs) in a six-rounder in August 2018. In his most recent appearance, Romero knocked out Arturs Ahmetovs (5-1, 2 KOs) in the second round on the Tyson Fury-Deontay Wilder undercard February 22.
Martinez and Ahmetovs obviously will never be confused for Garcia and Haney, but Romero promises even boxing’s elite lightweights won’t be able to take his power.
Capturing even an interim title at least would afford Romero more leverage than he has today. He senses, however, that the top lightweights won’t fight him anytime soon.
“None of ‘em mention me,” Romero said. “I don’t get mentioned by anybody, but I have just as much clout. I have more clout than half of them. I mean, other than the exceptions – Ryan Garcia having six [million Instagram followers], ‘Tank’ having two [million Instagram followers] and stuff like that. Me and Teofimo have about the same. But Teofimo, he a friend of mine.
“But aside from that, everybody under me, nobody calls me out either way. Nobody above me calls me out, none of ‘em. I call them out. I literally can say whatever I want. They don’t do anything, because they know if they do anything, it’s gonna end up like, ‘OK, send me the damn contract. I’m waiting. Send me the damn contract.’ And they know I’ll take it because I don’t say no to anybody. I’ll fight anybody.”
Mayweather made Garcia a very public offer to fight Romero during a TMZ interview in February 2019. Garcia wasn’t interested in what he viewed as an unnecessary risk at that point in his career.
“He was making 30K a fight and got offered a 200K bonus on top of beating me, and a guaranteed title shot [at Davis],” Romero recalled. “That sounds like a golden opportunity, no?”
The 22-year-old Garcia (20-0, 17 KOs) is expected to box British southpaw Luke Campbell (20-3, 16 KOs) in his next fight for the WBC’s interim lightweight title.
“He should stop Luke Campbell,” Romero said. “I mean, everyone at that level is gonna be difficult, but he should stop Luke Campbell.”
Romero, meanwhile, is focused on scoring his own impressive knockout Saturday night.
“People are gonna see what I can do on August 15th,” Romero said. “I’m gonna just prove my hype. That’s all. I’ll prove it.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.