There is a thin line between reality and surreality in the boxing business, and usually your perception lies on which side of a punch you are on. However, in the pugilistic game of thrones, contenders know that a leather strap around your waist is the only difference.
Enter Rolando “Rolly” Romero, the man who has been begging for the level of punishment that only Gervonta “Tank” Davis is known to bring. The two stable mates have been staring through the ropes for years, with Rolly agape at what he felt was his opportunity in the limelight standing right in front of him.
Now the two will finally have their day to dance this Saturday at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Showtime PPV.
Tank is a five-time world champion and the heir apparent star of Mayweather Promotions. Now living his dream at the height of his career, many would not have believed that a fighter like Rolly Romero would receive a shot against Davis. But Rolly Romero isn’t one to wait his turn, so he talked his way into this fight.
“He has a big head for me to hit,” Romero said during the final press conference. “I’m not going to say what punch I’m getting him with, but you’re all going to see on Saturday night. This is ending in one round.”
“I got to this point faster than anyone else and I’m here for a reason,” he continued. “I’m the new face of boxing, and everyone is going to see on Saturday when I knock ‘Tank’ out.”
Davis (26-0, 24 KOs) stopped previously unbeaten Mario Barrios to capture a 140-pound title in June, becoming a three-division world champion. In December, he then had a rough but victorious fight against top lightweight contender Isaac Cruz, where many felt the secret to defeating Tank was exposed.
However, back in October 2020, Davis scored an emphatic knockout over Leo Santa Cruz, becoming the first person to drop the four-division champion and developing a reputation as a box office star. Davis has sold out venues in Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Baltimore and looks ahead to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn this weekend to continue his money-generating ways.
So why is he fighting Rolly, a former interim WBA champion that was stripped when the boxing organization eliminated all interim champs with only 14 professional bouts?
The reason is that Rolly can sell a fight.
Introducing Rolly Romero
Romero has used his bully pulpit effectively since the two were slated first to fight each other on Dec. 5, 2021. From fur coats and tough talk to his constant barrage of insults against a person many feel is a mini Mike Tyson in terms of power, Romero is displaying what looks like borderline insanity in the eyes of many fans.
Romero has knocked out twelve of his 14 opponents with style reminiscent of his early martial arts roots, one that boxing purists find “awkward.” Romero admittedly started boxing at 17. Davis has been studying the squared circle up close and personally since he was 7 years old, and, to Davis that is Rolly’s ultimate disadvantage.
“I don’t think he’s awkward,” said Davis during the final press conference. “I just think he’s a guy who just started fighting. He’s like someone who just came into the gym.
“He’s like someone who thinks he’s nice now even though he hasn’t gotten it down pat yet. Real fighters know awkward fighters; he’s just a dumb-ass fighter.”
Yet here Rolly stands on the precipice of potential greatness. Mike Tyson famously said that everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face, and that is the one element that could change the course of history.
“You can call him awkward or unorthodox, you can say anything you want,” said Stephen Espinoza, President of Showtime Sports. “One thing you can’t argue with is Rolly’s power. That’s what has everybody so intrigued.”
Rocky vs. Chuck Wepner
Sylvester Stallone’s iconic Rocky Balboa character permanently planted the theme of the underdog usurping the titlist. However, in real life, Chuck Wepner, the model for the Balboa character, almost went a complete 15 rounds with Muhammad Ali for The Greatest’s WBA and WBC titles but ultimately was TKO’d in the 15th.
Although Wepner’s performance inspired a classic American movie series, Wepner became a footnote in history, not a legend, and that’s the thin line that separates Rolly Romero from insanity or genius.