Sat. Nov 26th, 2022

Confidence can be a fighter’s best friend or worst enemy. Rolando “Rolly” Romero hopes his sky-high confidence will be enough to propel him to a sport-shaking upset over Gervonta “Tank” Davis in their clash for the secondary WBA lightweight title on Saturday night inside the Barclays Center in Brooklyn (9 p.m. ET, Showtime PPV — order now).

Romero (14-0, 12 KO) has certainly talked the talk leading up to the fight, drawing on a history of bad blood to hype up the fight — and himself.

“Everybody talks about [whether I can outbox] Gervonta but he’s not even a good boxer,” Romero told “Morning Kombat” ahead of the fight. “Everybody outboxes him and everybody punches him in the face. It’s all smaller dudes and weight-drained opponents. And the one person that had a f—ing pulse when they fought was ‘Pitbull’ Cruz and [he] has no boxing ability, whatsoever. Yet, he beat the f— out of [Davis] and you’re talking to me about potentially outboxing Gervonta Davis? Shit.

“He has one of the most padded records I have ever seen and people don’t realize that.”   

Davis (26-0, 24 KO) has emerged as one of the brightest stars in boxing over the past several years, showcasing a combination of speed and power that has been far too much for every man he has faced inside the ring.

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For all his talents, Davis’ power is his calling card. Only two men have ever been able to take Davis the distance. Davis had gone on a run of 16 consecutive knockouts that ended in his most recent fight, a narrow decision win over Cruz. During that run, Davis scored some of the biggest knockouts in the sport, including 2020’s Knockout of the Year, a crushing uppercut that put Leo Santa Cruz to sleep in what had been a very competitive fight.

In the fight with Cruz, which Romero has pointed to as proof of Davis’ lack of true quality, Davis suffered a hand injury midway through the fight and had to battle through a hard-charging and determined opponent. That Davis was able to shift gears and battle through those two layers of adversity was a big moment that showed a deeper well of skills than many of Davis’ doubters may have believed he possessed.

Cruz actually stepped into the Davis fight late in the process, filling in for Romero after sexual assault allegations surfaced. While it was expected that Davis would move on from the fight with Cruz to target big-name fighters like Ryan Garcia, Devin Haney or undisputed lightweight king George Kambosos Jr., the bout with Romero was rebooked after no charges were filed against the 26-year-old when the allegations could not be substantiated.

Romero possesses plenty of his own power, having stopped 12 of his 14 opponents as a professional. His style is best described as “awkward,” which is boxing speak for lacking technical proficiency but with enough power to usually cover for those technical deficiencies.

The one fight where Romero was not able to do so came in his August 2020 fight with Jackson Marinez. Romero won the WBA interim title in that fight, but almost no one outside of Romero and the three ringside judges saw Romero as having deserved the win in a fight Marinez completely controlled.

While the WBA was considering a rematch between the two, the fight never materialized and Romero picked up a pair of seventh round knockout wins to set up a match with his rival.

Davis vs. Romero card, odds

Odds via Caesars Sportsbook

Gervonta Davis (c) -800

Rolando Romero +550

WBA (regular) lightweight title

Erislandy Lara -1600

Gary O’Sullivan +900

WBA (regular) middleweight title

Jesus Ramos -1100

Luke Santamaria +700

Super welterweight

Eduardo Ramirez -410

Luis Melendez +320

Super featherweight

Luis Arias

Jimmy Williams

Super welterweight


You can dig through the history of boxing and find cases of crude brawlers who were a top-class fighter’s kryptonite. Those fights tend to stick out in the memory far more because the much more common case of the better fighter simply outclassing their foe. Can Romero prove to be Ricardo Mayorga to Davis’ Vernon Forrest? It’s certainly possible but also highly unlikely.

For all of Romero’s talk of Davis getting outboxed and hit clean by every opponent, Romero leaves the bigger openings defensively. Romero swings for the fences with nearly every punch, winding up and leaving big holes for return fire while also often finding himself off-balance in the process. Davis is simply the far better fighter and his power is as good, if not better, than Romero’s. Outside of Romero catching Davis clean with a fight-changing punch, it’s hard to see any way the fight doesn’t play out with Davis hitting Romero clean early and often before finishing the fight with a brutal flurry. Pick: Davis via TKO4

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