Say Good Night To The Bad Guy: Rolly Romero Solidifies Himself As Boxing’s Newest Heel

Photo Credit: Amanda Westcott / SHOWTIME

Rolly Romero deserves your respect.

He spewed this claim in the lead-up to his now record-breaking fight against Gervonta “Tank” Davis, not just for the constant trash talk, although it was partly from a promotional standpoint.

Rolly should get your respect because he faced the juggernaut in the face in fifteen minutes and captured the world’s attention. Romero has earned his polarization in an industry where the bad guy is both celebrated and loathed for being bold enough to step into a veritable lion’s den with no quarter sought or given.

Score Settled. Stars Born.

In a highly anticipated event, the fierce rivals finally settled their war of words in the ring, although the early rounds saw the fighters essentially feeling each other out.

Davis (27-0, 25 KOs), a three-division world champion, showed off his movement and boxing abilities through those rounds, while Romero (14-1, 12 KOs) promised the first-round knockout but was unable to hurt Davis despite pushing the pace initially.

Respect Earned

Still, he gave Rolly a modicum of respect.

“He was strong for sure, but there were a couple shots that I was getting warmed up with and he caught me and I was like, ‘I can’t sit with him just yet,'” said Davis.

“I know when to take it to my opponents and when to chill out. There was someone in the crowd, and they were telling me to press forward and I was like, not yet. I got to loosen him up a little more.”

Unlikely Star

For a 14-1 fighter that only has held an interim belt he was stripped of, Romero earned the respect of the heir apparent to the Mayweather Promotions kingdom.

Romero stalked Davis the whole fight and fashioned himself the bully to a cautious tank. Davis knew Romero was looking for that one knockout shot partially because Romero said he would do so repeatedly. For an audience that only knew his soundbites, Romero showed them that he could box, he could bang, and he could make them mad.

Then he followed it up with his next act: defiance. After the fight, Romero stated his intention of a rematch and said so repeatedly at the post-fight press conference.

“I want the fight again,” said Romero. “I exposed him and won every single round. I jumped into something and ate a stupid shot.”

Bad Guy Box Office

While the numbers don’t support Rolly’s claim of winning every round, he makes a solid case to be treated like a marquee talent.

The fight was pretty even statistically, with Davis only out-landing Romero 25-22, but with a significant edge in punch accuracy (30 percent to 19 percent), according to CompuBox.

However, Saturday’s event was the highest-grossing and most-attended boxing event in the venue’s history at 18,970 attendees. He promised someone would be knocked out, and although it was him, the crowd was pleased with the outcome.

“Rolly Romero has nothing to hold his head down about,” Mayweather Promotions CEO, Leonard Ellerbe said during their post-fight press conference. “I thought that he was fighting a very good fight. He got caught with a big shot. You know, Tank showed his experience in the fight. He was very patient and he was able to do what he needed to do to close the show.”

Thank You Rolly

Davis gave his legions of loyal fans what they had come out to see in round six, landing the decisive blow as he had guaranteed in the pre-fight build-up. Davis closed the show with a fierce counter left hook that sent Romero face-first into the ropes and onto the mat.

“I can tell you right now, though, about Rolly Romero — if you can’t punch, you ain’t gonna beat that dude,” Ellerbe continued. “He is strong as f—! I’m telling you, all the other lightweights out there, I think, you know, Rolly’s put ‘em on notice. You know, Tank Davis is on another level. He showed you why he’s one of the best fighters in the world.”

Davis delivered the victory for the crowd, and Rolly remains the polar opposite heel that they needed. In one fell swoop, Tank stepped out of the shadow of Floyd Mayweather, and the world fully entered the Tank Davis era.

“I was thinking as this interview was coming up and as much as I wanted to be cocky, but I want to thank ‘Rolly,’” said Davis during the post-fight interview. “I want to thank his team. We settled it like men inside the ring. I wish him the best in the future.”

The assist came from Rolly Romero, and now boxing has its newest box office bad guy.

Rhett Butler is a Boxing Writer Association of America Journalist, Play-By-Play Commentator, Combat Sports Insider, and Former Mixed Martial Arts and Boxing Promoter. The New York City native honed his skills at various news outlets including but not limited to: TIME Magazine, Money Magazine, CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports, and more. Rhett hosts the PRITTY Left Hook podcast, a polarizing combat sports insider's take featuring the world's biggest names.