There’s nothing theatrical or ostentatious about Daniel Roman.
The business-like super-bantam faces Juan Carlos Payano as part of PBC’s ambitious, double event spectacular on Showtime Pay-Per-View on September 26.
In typically straight-talking but respectful manner, the former WBA and IBF 122lbs champion makes it clear to Boxing Social he is determined to make an impact on a night when boxing gets back to something approaching normality with a packed calendar worldwide.
“I’m happy and honoured to be fighting alongside such big names like the Charlo brothers, [Luis] Nery and [Aaron] Alameda, then myself and Payano,” said Roman (27-3-1, 10 KOs). “We’re going to try and make it the fight of the night.
“This an eliminator for the WBC title, so if everything goes well on September 26 then I could face the winner of Nery vs Alameda or [currently injured] Rey Vargas. I don’t mind who I fight. I wanted that fight [versus Vargas] when I was the champion. I’m here to fight the best, so line ‘em up!”
Payano (21-3, 9 KOs) is a rough and tough Dominican who has mixed in top class. He split a two-fight series with Rau’shee Warren and ended the six-year plus WBA bantamweight reign of Anselmo Moreno in 2014.
However, the 36-year-old southpaw has registered two defeats in his last three starts – against Naoya Inoue and Luis Nery – and hasn’t fought in more than a year.
Ever the professional, though, Roman refuses to under-estimate the challenge represented by his opponent.
“Payano has been in tough fights. He’s been in with quality fighters. He’s coming off a loss so he’s going to be trying to get back in there and prove himself. Prove that he’s still got it,” said the 30-year-old from Los Angeles. “I’m expecting the best Payano. I’m not underestimating him or anybody else. For me, every fight is as important as a championship fight. I’ll be ready for whatever Payano brings.
“Payano is going to come and give everything. I’m going to give my best and everything as well. So expect a great fight from us. I think we’ll steal the show.”
The last time Roman was in action – in January – he dropped a razor-thin split decision to highly rated Uzbek Murodjon Akhmadaliev. It was a result that deprived Roman of his hard earned WBA and IBF world titles and he admits the outcome still rankles.
“I honestly believe I won that fight,” he insisted. “It was a close fight but I believe I took it. And it’s motivated me even more because now I know I can’t leave it in the hands of the judges. If I can take this guy [Payano] out I’m gonna take him.
“Hopefully, in this fight, everything goes well first but yes I would love the rematch [against Akhmadaliev]. We have unfinished business.”
When asked to nominate the sternest test of his career so far, Roman looks past Akhmadaliev and instead references his April 2014 unification clash with Australia-based Irishman TJ Doheny. “You know what? The toughest fight of my career so far I’m going to have to say it was TJ Doheny,” he said. “But my most memorable fight was when I won the world title against Shun Kubo [in Kyoto in 2017]. Oh man, that was a great experience! The Japanese people really know their boxing. It was a different crowd to what I was used to, but they were good people and had a great champion in Shun Kubo. They treated me nice and were very respectful.”
World championship level – of course – is what Roman aspires to return to as soon as possible, although with the ongoing Covid-19 Pandemic he admits he is grateful to be fighting at all.
“I’m fortunate and I’m thankful. A lot of fights fell off and a lot of fighters haven’t fought because of Covid-19,” he said. “Hopefully, everything goes well between now and the fight because I’m very happy to be back in the ring.
“At the beginning [of the pandemic, it] kind of did [affect me] because they closed down the gym but then my manager [Eddie Gonzalez] looked around to find us a private gym, Once we started training and getting ready to fight, everything fell into place. As for my family, we’ve been trying to follow all the procedures, to avoid the virus.
“We’ll be making sure we’re taking care of ourselves right up to the day of the fight. Training’s been going good. We’ve got all the right sparring in place. We’ll be ready. As a fighter, this is what we train for – to fight, to win and to get titles.”
Main image: Former unified champ Roman prepares for another run at a world title. Photo: Kyte Monroe/Thompson Boxing.