UNCASVILLE, Connecticut – Ronnie Shields was surprised when Justin Pauldo received a call last month about boxing Rolando Romero on Saturday night.
Pauldo’s trainer noticed that his fighter and Jackson Marinez have similar styles. Shields assumed Romero’s handlers would’ve avoided a counter-punching boxer because Marinez gave Romero so much trouble in their 12-round, 135-pound championship match August 15 at Mohegan Sun Arena.
Shields feels Marinez beat Romero comfortably, despite that Romero won a controversial unanimous decision to capture the WBA interim lightweight title in a fight Showtime televised five months ago.
The veteran trainer acknowledged concern about the scoring in advance of the Romero-Pauldo fight, the opener of Showtime’s tripleheader Saturday night at Mohegan Sun Arena (9 p.m. ET; 6 p.m. PT).
“I saw a lot of holes in what [Romero] does,” Shields told BoxingScene.com. “I thought he lost his last fight. I think Justin fights a lot similar to [Marinez] because the kid is strictly a counter-puncher, and that’s what Justin is, also, a counter-puncher. But the thing about it is we’re looking at that fight and looking at how they judged that fight, and I told Justin, I said, ‘Man, you cannot fight [Romero] the same way.’ I said, ‘At some point, you have to take the lead.’ But Romero is a strong kid, he throws punches, he seems like he’s always in good shape.”
While Shields has emphasized to Houston’s Pauldo (14-1, 7 KOs, 1 NC) the need to be aggressive against Romero, he also has stressed to his fighter that he cannot approach their 12-round lightweight bout as if he needs a knockout to win.
Pauldo, 26, has won just 47 percent of his professional bouts by knockout. Romero, 25, has an 83-percent knockout ratio.
“I hate it, personally, going into a fight thinking I need a knockout,” Shields said. “I guess I’ve been through this so many times, I’ve always told my guy, ‘Look, deep down inside, you know if you’ve won a round or if you’re losing a round.’ Me, I tell my guys if they’re winning or they’re losing. I just try to be straight and up front with them. I don’t over-emphasize because I don’t want them to slack off, when I think they’re winning. And then, all of a sudden, the judges see a different thing.
“But the thing about it is, I can’t have my guy going in there worried about what the judges are looking for. You can’t fight two fights. You can’t fight doing what the judges want you to do, and then what you have to do. So, I just tell my guys, ‘Look, go in there, fight the fight that we trained to fight. That’s it. Don’t put no pressure on yourself to impress these judges, because, you know, then you get yourself fighting some way different, when you try to prove to them certain things.’ ”
All three judges – Glenn Feldman (116-112), Frank Lombardi (118-110) and Don Trella (115-113) – scored Las Vegas’ Romero (12-0, 10 KOs) a victor over the Dominican Republic’s Marinez (19-1, 7 KOs). Lombardi oddly scored 10 of the 12 rounds for Romero, who is promoted by Floyd Mayweather’s company.
According to CompuBox’s unofficial statistics, Romero landed 17 fewer punches than Marinez (103-of-629 to 86-of-509).
“Of course, in the last fight that [Romero] had, there’s no way in the world he won that fight,” Shields said. “And still, the judges gave it to him. But, you know, I told Justin, ‘You are a different fighter. You do certain things different than the kid.’ I just want him to go in there and use the game plan that we have. And if we have to make adjustments, OK, well, we know how to make adjustments. We do that, and then we have to leave it up to the judges.
“I would prefer not to leave it up to the judges. But I don’t want him going in there, looking for one shot, trying to knock this kid out, and it never comes. Then I know we’re behind on the scorecards. So, I don’t ever wanna put him in that kind of position. And he understands what he has to do. He understands the opportunity that’s in front of him. And so, he just has to take it for what it is, go in there and fight his fight, and let the chips fall where they fall.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.