Roman, Doheny look to steal the show in unification fight

D01hQSWXgAEYVRX.0 - Roman, Doheny look to steal the show in unification fight

Daniel Roman hopes to put on a show at home in Los Angeles in his unification fight with TJ Doheny.

Daniel Roman returns to action this Friday on DAZN from the Forum in Inglewood, California, as the WBA super bantamweight titleholder takes on TJ Doheny, who holds the IBF belt, in a big 122-pound unification.

The fight is slotted as the co-feature to the super flyweight title rematch between Srisaket Sor Rungvisai and Juan Francisco Estrada. With those two fights leading a card that is also packed with prospects and features Jessie Vargas vs Humberto Soto, as well, this is really a big one for the diehard boxing fans.

Roman (26-2-1, 10 KO) will also be returning home to Los Angeles for this fight, his first in (or around) his hometown since 2016, when he beat Marlon Olea on a Thompson Boxing show at the DoubleTree Hotel in Ontario.

Roman, now 28, wasn’t really much on the radar as a potential serious contender at that time. He’d started his pro career just 8-2-1 from 2010-2013, not usually the signal for the start of a world title career in today’s boxing game.

But the win over Olea was his 13th in a row, too, and that included some victories over veterans like Christopher Martin and Christian Esquivel — not the top of the line, but the type of guys who beat pretenders. He picked up the NABA super bantamweight title, associated with the WBA, and after four defenses of that belt, found himself in a ShoBox main event against Adam Lopez, who came in 16-0-1.

After the fight had already been made official, the WBA made it an official eliminator. Roman was suddenly one win away, at least in theory, from a shot at a world title. He was the B-side against Lopez, a ShoBox veteran by that point, but dropped Lopez twice in the fourth round and stopped him after nine.

IMG 2205 - Roman, Doheny look to steal the show in unification fightTom Casino/SHOWTIME

About seven months later, Roman found himself flying to Kyoto, Japan, for a bout against unbeaten WBA super bantamweight titleholder Shun Kubo, 12-0 with nine wins by stoppage. The Japanese fighter had the belt, home field advantage, and was coming off of a win over Nehomar Cermeno, an experienced former interim titleholder at 118 and 122.

Most probably expected Kubo would win — going from ShoBox level to the world title level is a big step, generally speaking. Kubo was longer, taller, and a southpaw. It was a lot to take in. A lot to overcome.

“We never had any doubt that Danny would win the WBA title,” said Thompson Boxing’s Alex Camponovo after the fight, which Roman pretty much completely dominated. When he stopped Kubo in the ninth round, Roman led on all three scorecards, 79-72, 80-72, and 80-72.

“Words can’t describe what I’m feeling right now,” Roman said after the win. “It’s a dream come true.”

Less than six months later, Roman was back in Japan for his first title defense, this time at Tokyo’s famed Korakuen Hall, facing once-beaten Ryo Matsumoto. Once again, Roman’s opponent was not just the home fighter, but had a significant height advantage.

This time, Roman didn’t score any knockdowns, didn’t get a stoppage, but won a wide 12-round decision on scores of 118-110, 119-109, and 119-109. It had become clear that the eliminator win wasn’t a fluke and the title win wasn’t a fluke, either. Daniel Roman had arrived as one of the top 122-pound fighters in the world.

has been guaranteed his title shot next. The 24-year-old Akhmadaliev won a bronze medal at the 2016 Olympics, representing Uzbekistan, losing in the semifinals to the brilliant Cuban Robeisy Ramirez, a two-time gold medal winner.

Akhmadaliev, who was last seen in November stopping Isaac Zarate on a late-period HBO show, is a serious challenge for the victor. And he’ll be in the house on Friday, as he’s staying busy against against former bantamweight title challenger-turned-journeyman Carlos Carlson (23-5, 14 KO) on the undercard. So you MJ, as he’s called, will be watching and scouting.

But that’s for later. For now, let’s appreciate Roman and Doheny for stepping up to the plate and looking to be even more than they’ve already become.

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