Danny Roman made the statement he hoped to accomplish in his previous performance.
The former WBA/IBF junior featherweight titlist claimed a dominant 10-round unanimous decision win over Ricardo Espinoza in their Showtime-televised non-title fight Saturday evening at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California. Judge Zachary Young (97-93), Edward Hernandez Sr. (98-92) and Rudy Barragan (98-92) all awarded the fight in favor of Roman, who claimed his second win since losing his titles to Murodjon Akhmadaliev last January.
The pair of junior featherweights immediately took to the energy felt in the war-friendly venue. Espinoza pressed with the action in the opening round, determined to prove his worth on the contender stage. Roman was able to sift through the early volume punching of his foe, remaining composed and almost always countering with clean combinations.
“I knew Ricardo Espinoza is a tough fighter and hits hard,” Roman noted after the fight. “I knew I had to fight a smart fight and make adjustments.”
Espinoza’s best chance at pulling off the upset was to outwork Los Angeles’ Roman which he continued to do in round two. Roman was sharp with his jab and right hand counters, while Espinoza was at his best at close range where he could connect with chopping right hands.
Roman truly took the lead for the first time in round three. A notorious slow starter, Roman—who scored a disputed decision over Juan Carlos Payano last September—picked up the pace, daring Espinoza to go punch for punch with the former unified titlist. The Tijuana native was outworked on the inside and at a disadvantage whenever Roman was able to keep him at the end of his jab.
Espinoza was urged to pick up the pace in the middle rounds, managing to briefly turn the tide in round four. Roman righted the ship in round five, catching Espinoza with a right uppercut and landing with clean, eye-catching combinations as Espinoza was simply outclassed.
Roman intensified his attack in rounds six and seven. Espinoza stood directly in front of the local favorite, where he was beaten to the punch and rocked on several occasions. Roman showcased the entire arsenal, landing a left hook to snap back the head of Espinoza along with a jaw-rattling uppercut in round seven.
Espinoza showed signs of wear and tear in round eight, fighting on heart but also spurting blood. Chants of “Danny!” filled the partisan but socially distanced crowd as Roman worked the body while also continuing to commit to his dangerously accurate left uppercut.
Time was called at the start of round nine, as the ringside physician examined Espinoza’s jaw and cut over his right eyebrow. Action was permitted to resume, with Roman going right back to work. Espinoza managed to land a left hook, though lost in a hailstorm of power shots from Roman who was surgical in his attack and unscathed in comparison to a gory Espinoza who managed to make it to the bell.
The 10th and final round saw more of the same. Espinoza (25-4-1, 21KOs) could accept a moral victory in going ten rounds with the supremely talented former champion, though at the expense of getting picked apart over the final three minutes.
Roman picks up his second consecutive victory post-title reign, as he improves to 29-3-1 (10KOs). He did so through cleaner punching, landing 220-of-756 total punches (29.1%), including 190-of-502 power punches (37.8%). Espinoza landed 190-of-724 punches (26.2%), including 182-of-513 power shots (35.4%)
The 31-year-old former champ remains in title contention, though will have to wait likely until 2022 for such an opportunity. Roman is among the highest rated challengers for the WBC and WBO belts, with WBC titlist Luis Nery facing Brandon Figueroa in the main event. The winner meets WBO junior featherweight titlist Stephen Fulton in a title unification bout September 11.
The former champion isn’t trying to hear any of that.
“I’m the mandatory for the WBC. I want a title shot now,” Roman exclaimed after the win. “The people demand to see it. Give me the winner of the [main event]. It doesn’t matter [who wins]… I’m here to fight the best.”
The bout aired live on Showtime as the chief support to a televised tripleheader topped by a 122-pound two-belt title fight between Luis Nery (31-0, 24KOs) and Brandon Figueroa (21-0-1, 16KOs).
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox