The sparring session that Rolando Romero wanted years ago has evolved into the biggest fight of his career to date.
No love has been lost between Las Vegas’ Romero and Baltimore’s Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis, who collide May 28 atop a Showtime Pay-Per-View event from Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. The bout materialized on the second try, though the foundation was laid years ago—dating even further back than Romero’s desire to spar with the unbeaten southpaw back in 2018, with Davis allegedly pulling a no-show.
From there came a growing rivalry, with neither boxer thinking much of the other.
“If I say I’m gonna spar somebody, I’m gonna spar somebody. He ducked me twice even then,” Romero insisted while discussing the rivalry during an open media workout at Mayweather Boxing Club in Las Vegas. “I‘ve been calling him out since 2017. The reason that the fight’s being made is because I want it, not because he wants it. He don’t want this sh!t. He wish he could fight some other 126- or 122-pounder.”
Romero (14-0, 12KOs) has found other reasons to dislike Davis (26-0, 24KOs), whose secondary WBA lightweight title is on the line in their rescheduled grudge match. The belt at stake is secondary to the fight itself moving forward.
“He’s been asking me for this fight for like three years,” noted Leonard Ellerbe, CEO of Mayweather Promotions, who promotes both fighters. “Every time he sees me, he’s been asking me, ‘When do I fight Tank?’
“Now is the opportunity. We're right here, close to the fight. He’s in terrific shape and I expect it to be a terrific fight. It will be a very entertaining fight and I expect to end in a knockout.”
Davis and Romero have twice laid out their disdain for one another during separate press conferences to announce their twice-scheduled fight. The two bumped heads last October in Los Angeles, less than two months prior to their scheduled December 5 clash at Staples Center (now Crypto.com Arena).
Romero was forced to withdraw after being named in a sexual assault investigation. The unbeaten lightweight contender was able to clear his name, though not before Davis went on to face and beat Mexico City’s Isaac Cruz (23-2-1, 16KOs) by unanimous decision.
The fight came back into play once the WBA enforced Romero’s mandatory contender status. Romero previously held the interim WBA lightweight title before the sanctioning body removed the belt from circulation last August, at which point he was installed as the number-one contender to Davis’s secondary title.
The fight was ordered again earlier this year, with a deal reached and the two once again trading insults during a heated press conference this past April in Brooklyn. Nothing that was said on stage seemed to resonate with Romero, who already had his mind made up about his upcoming opponent.
“I don’t like him as a person. I think he’s a piece of sh!t person,” insists Romero, who has predicted a first-round knockout. “Honestly, he’s gonna get his ass whooped. He’s a f------- piece of the sh!t for the sport too.
“It’s just a bunch of nervous energy. He ain’t say sh!t. couldn’t even say he was gonna knock me out. He can’t do sh!t. He a bitch”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox