Rolando ‘Rolly’ Romero and Ismael Barroso have found themselves in a fantastic position ahead of their bout this Saturday.
Romero was scheduled to fight Barroso for the WBA Interim Super-Lightweight title, with the winner poised to challenge Alberto Puello for the full WBA World belt. However, Puello has since been stripped, meaning Romero-Barroso will be for the true world honours.
Puello was originally scheduled to make the first defence of his champion status against Romero, after defeating Botirzhon Akhmedov by split-decision for the vacant WBA title nine months prior.
However, the Dominican Republican was pulled from the fight after failing a VADA drug test, testing positive for clomiphene, the same drug that Conor Benn tested positive for. ‘Rolly’ found a new opponent in Barroso, who was the WBA’s mandatory challenger.
After an investigation, Puello has been named as a ‘champion in recess’ and has thus lost his title. Therefore, Romero’s 140lb debut will be for the WBA belt after never challenging for a recognised world honour in his career, in what must be a rarity for the sport.
To add to the uniqueness of how events have played out, ‘Rolly’ is also coming off of a loss, picking up the first defeat of his career when stopped in the sixth-round against Gervonta Davis almost a year ago. He told fans he would be champion come Saturday night.
“Everyone can expect to see ‘Rolly’ with the world title around his waist Saturday night. Every fighter that boxes dreams of becoming world champion, so it would be a dream come true. All belts mean the same to me. My interim belt meant a lot to me too. I’m just blessed to be in the position to get my hands on another one.”
Like his American opponent, 40-year-old Barroso has challenged for and won ‘regular’ and interim belts in the past, but the Venezuelan has never had the opportunity to become a world champion.
British fans may remember him for his defeat to Anthony Crolla in 2016 where he was stopped by a body shot in the seventh-round, but with three early knockouts in his last four fights, Barroso will be hoping that he is the reason the final bell is not heard this weekend.
Both men will fancy their chances as power-punchers on Saturday night, with 86% of Romero’s wins not requiring the judges and 92% of Barroso’s twenty-four wins being by knockout.