Rolando 'Rolly' Romero returns on Saturday against Ismael Barroso with a new outlook on life in and out of the ring.
Showtime Boxing returns to the Las Vegas strip on Saturday as they host a super lightweight championship fight live from The Cosmopolitan. Rolando ‘Rolly’ Romero (14-1) returns to action after losing to Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis in May 2022 by knockout at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY. Romero has an opportunity to place his career back on track as he faces Ismael Barroso for the interim WBA Super lightweight title.
It's been almost a year since Romero’s loss to Davis, and aside from the knockout, it was the first time the 28-year-old suffered defeat as a pro. A loss on your record doesn’t mean the end of your career, as many have proven in the past and have continued their careers to become boxing legends. Nowadays, boxers are so fixated on preserving their undefeated record that they are hesitant to take on a real challenge as, in their minds, it could mean the end of any future opportunities. That is furthest from the truth, and Romero is proving that theory wrong as he gets an interim title opportunity on Saturday.
Sometimes it takes stepping away from whatever you are doing to refocus on what’s important and sharpen your skills to prepare for that next opportunity. Romero did just that and felt it was the best thing he could have done for himself and his career.
Romero told FansidedMMA, “Honestly, I needed it. I needed to take time away from boxing. You box for so many years, and you just need some time away from boxing. I literally just spent my free time enjoying myself and doing all of the things I was supposed to do. When I finally came back in December, I was just running a lot. I never stopped training, so don’t think that. I was still training but wasn’t focused on a fight or anything like that. I started to enjoy working out and running again. I hate running but was genuinely enjoying it again.”
Rolando 'Rolly' Romero vs. Ismael Barroso will stream live on Showtime
Romero was able to recenter himself physically and plan for the future, as boxing is a brutal sport and isn’t meant to last forever. “I set myself up to be in a good position for a long time. I made some smart decisions during that time. I became a better person and just a better man.” Romero also acknowledges that maturity has settled in and allowed him to see things from a different perspective.
A funny thing happened during the time away from the ring. Romero’s popularity actually increased with the loss to Davis. Maybe it was Romero stepping up to such a challenge that earned respect from the fans or how competitive he was that night. Whatever it was, you can’t help to see the mob of people that would surround him at every fight he attended as a spectator. Credit to Romero for staying in the public eye and not disappearing like most fighters in between their bouts.
Romero enjoys the attention but also knows that it comes with a certain level of responsibility as some of those fans are young kids who one day look to be who Romero is now, both in and out of the ring.
“Man, I can’t go anywhere without being stopped. I was already a social media icon in the boxing world, but now it’s like I can’t even leave my house without getting noticed. As you can tell, I really enjoy it. The biggest blessing is that I have this huge influence over the people around me and people in general.”
Romero continued, “It makes my day when a kid comes up to me and tells me that I’m his hero or that I saved them from this or that. I say, ‘I don’t even know you, and I did that.’ That’s powerful. That’s the biggest blessing. F%ck the belts, the world titles, the money, all that stuff. Being able to influence people the way I do, that’s something that you can’t put a price on. That’s something amazing.”
On Saturday, Romero will face Barroso, which means a win will place him right back into the picture for a significant fight at super lightweight. Romero has the ability for another run that can outshine his first one at lightweight, but the question then becomes, what will he do with it this time knowing what he knows now? Whatever happens, Romero will look to please the crowd in front of the brightest lights live on Showtime.