WBA Champ Danny Roman Returns to Japan for His First Title Defense

Win or lose Danny Roman has taken fans on an extraordinary journey.

The WBA super bantamweight titlist, Roman (23-2-1, 9 KOs) has an invitation to a duel against Ryo Matsumoto (21-1, 19 KOs) on Wednesday, Feb. 28, at venerable Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan. It will not be televised but streamed via Facebook.

When the Los Angeles native first arrived on the local fight scene he was that unique 1 in 1000 to survive the street scrums. Very few escape the mixture of hunger impelled pugilists, Mexican mercenaries, speedy boxers from South Central or amateur champions that dwell in the Southern California landscape. He was never protected.

Roman arrived on the pro boxing scene in October 2010 and made a significant pro debut by scoring a first round 43-second knockout at the Doubletree Hotel in Ontario. It was significant because Thompson Boxing Promotions sponsors the fight cards at that establishment and they have a knack for finding hidden jewels.

But the next three times Roman entered the ring he encountered an array of different styles that posed different problems. First he faced a bigger guy and got a draw, then he skirmished with another good young prospect like himself and got a decision win. Less than a year after his debut he met Japan’s talented Takashi Okada at Doubletree Hotel in Ontario. Roman was beaten soundly by the Japanese fighter but somehow one judge saw him as the winner.

Still, the fighter known as “Baby-faced Assassin” was learning how to deal with the maze of styles seen in the pro boxing world. Instead of avoiding awkward styles or ultra-athletic opponents, the quiet Roman accepted the challenges and slowly fans at the Doubletree Hotel began to see him hone his skills, like a sword, to razor sharp effectiveness.

It seemed to really begin on September 2015 when he faced Erik Ruiz, a battle toughened veteran from the hard knock gyms of Oxnard. More than once Ruiz had derailed prospects seeking contender status. But when Ruiz clashed with Roman it was clear there was a wide disparity in talent that could not be crossed. Roman won the 10 round fight by wide margins. That was not expected, especially against Ruiz.

From that point on, five more opponents seemed out-classed by Roman despite fighting in Southern California where talented super bantamweights are as plentiful as grape vines. When shipped to Atlantic City to fight in an elimination bout Roman repeated his grinding style of wearing down and tearing up defenses with well-placed body shots and momentum grabbing combinations. His win over undefeated Adam Lopez pushed him to number one status.


Traveling to Japan is a daylong ordeal that can sap the energy and will out of any fighter. But when Roman met the much taller undefeated Shun Kubo in Kyoto, Japan last September, many believed too many obstacles stood in Roman’s way. Many believed the journey was over. But that day he showed the skills accrued the past eight years and slowly dismantled the talented champion until the fight was stopped in the ninth round. It left the crowd somewhat surprised.

“I came in early last time I was here in September so we decided to follow the same script,” said Roman, who is trained and managed by Eddie Gonzalez. “It makes sense to get used to the new time zone and develop a routine and comfort zone before my big fight against Matsumoto.”

Now Roman returns to Japan but this time to Tokyo against a challenger who has surely studied the weapons and strategies used by Roman to acquire the world title. It’s another leg in the journey of Roman.

The challenger Matsumoto looks to topple Roman. Yet again he’s another tall, slim super bantamweight with mind shocking power. Can Roman prevail again?

“I’m ready and well prepared to defend my title,” Roman said. “Matsumoto presents a tough challenge, but that’s nothing new for me. I’m going to fight my fight and not let him get comfortable.”

And the journey continues for Roman.

Photo credit: Jason Robles

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