It was Oct. 18, 2013 and Danny Roman lost a close unanimous decision to Juan Reyes.
As Roman sat after the fight in a makeshift locker room at the Doubletree Hotel in Ontario, California, he was convinced his hopes of a meaningful boxing career were over and was ready to move on.
That included getting a better job, as Roman worked at Yoshinoya, a chain of Japanese fast-food restaurants in the Los Angeles area.
“I was making minimum wage working at Yoshinoya,” recalled Roman. “I told myself 2014 was the year something had to happen or I was going to quit boxing.”
“At that moment, I never would’ve thought I would become a world champion.”
Roman is glad he stayed with the sport as he not only became the WBA titleholder at 122 pounds but is on the verge of adding another world title belt. He will square off against IBF junior featherweight titleholder TJ Doheny Friday night at The Forum in Inglewood, California.
The 12-round bout will stream live on DAZN (7:30 p.m. ET/ 4:30 p.m. PT).
Roman (26-2-1, 10 knockouts) has won his last 18 bouts since the loss to Reyes. Roman would eventually sign with Thompson Boxing Promotions, where he would build his record over the next several months against modest opposition in Southern California.
The 28-year-old Roman would get his big break in January of 2017, dominating Adam Lopez before stopping him at the end of round eight of an elimination bout. Over eight months later, Roman would win the WBA title by stopping Shun Kubo.
Roman has since successfully defended the title three times, with his most recent win coming over Gavin McDonnell on Oct. 6.
After traveling to defend his title in Tokyo, suburban Dallas, and Chicago, Roman will enjoy fighting in his hometown of Los Angeles. With the success Roman has achieved in the ring over his last several fights, he has had to adjust to becoming a celebrity in boxing.
“I’m staying in a hotel to remain focused and stay away from distraction,” Roman told The Ring Wednesday afternoon. “It’s funny because this fight brought out ‘family members’ from everywhere. I suddenly had all these uncles, cousins, and family members I never knew existed that wanted tickets to this fight.
“I’m still not used to the fame. I’m barely getting used to it. People come to me at the fights or in public and they want to get to know me or take a picture. It does feel good.”
Roman should be feeling good as he is in the prime of his career and on the verge of becoming the top fighter at 122 pounds. That will take an extraordinary effort as Doheny is unbeaten and has stopped eight of his last 10 opponents.
Doheny (21-0, 15 KOs), who is originally from Ireland and now resides in Bondi Junction, Australia, won the IBF title by defeating Ryosuke Iwasa on Aug. 16. Doheny successfully defended the title on Jan. 18, stopping Ryohei Takahashi in round 11, a fight Roman watched from ringside.
“There isn’t a lot of video of Doheny,” said Roman, who is co-promoted By Thompson Boxing and Matchroom Boxing. “He knows how to utilize the ring and he has a good left hand. He applied pressure when he needs to. I’m going to be ready for anything and just stick to my game-plan.”
Roman has come up with a game-plan with trainer and manager Eddie Gonzalez, who is based in Southern California. Gonzalez has been by Roman’s side throughout most of his career, including the low points in Roman’s career.
“Even after my first loss (in July of 2011 to Takashi Okada), I had a hard time getting fights. It wasn’t easy because I would train and work full-time. Eddie would do his best to get me fights, including in Mexico. I just pressed on and did what I had to do in the gym. It paid off.”
Roman envisions unifying the division but has to get by Doheny. Roman believes his perseverance and blue-collar mentality will be the difference in the fight.
Roman has come a long way from fighting in ballrooms to large arenas and for two major promoters. He has become more known, thanks to fighting on Showtime and now DAZN.
“I don’t want to let the success get to my head. What has got me to this point is having the character and hard work. The losses, the challenges in my life and my career. I believe I can still get better.”
“I’ve been asking for this unification fight and it is finally here. It is the biggest fight of my career and I’m ready.”
Francisco A. Salazar has written for RingTV.com since October of 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper, Boxingsene.com, and, FightNights.com. He can be reached by email at email@example.com or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing
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