Rolando Romero becomes titleholder as result of controversial stoppage
A bad fight. A bad performance by the featured fighter. And, most disturbing, a horrible stoppage by the referee.
Rolando Romero walked away with a major 140-pound belt after dropping and stopping 40-year-old Ismael Barroso in the ninth round Saturday night at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas.
The victory was anything but convincing, however.
Barroso put Romero down with a straight left in Round 3 and pushed the action the rest of the way against the strangely inactive Romero to build a lead on all three official cards after eight rounds, although neither fighter threw many punches in a boring bout.
Referee Tony Weeks stops the fight and @SignUp4KOs scores a TKO victory over Barroso to become the new WBA Super Lightweight champ 🏆 #RomeroBarroso pic.twitter.com/SseQxDNoQu
— SHOWTIME Boxing (@ShowtimeBoxing) May 14, 2023
Then came one of the more controversial rounds in recent memory.
First, Romero was awarded a knockdown that he didn’t deserve about a minute into the round. He landed a solid left but Barroso took the punch. It was a subsequent push that put the Venezuelan down.
Nevertheless, referee Tony Weeks awarded Romero a knockdown.
Then things got weirder. Romero tried to finish off Barroso but the latter continued to throw hard punches back at him. Weeks evidently didn’t care. A moment after Romero missed several punches, the ref jumped in and stopped the fight.
Fans and pundits weren’t as close to Barroso as Weeks was when the fight ended – maybe he saw something the rest of us didn’t – but it looked like a horrible stoppage.
Barroso, perhaps stunned, didn’t complain immediately but said during his post-fight interview that he should’ve been allowed to continue.
The outcome was particularly painful for him because he had performed significantly better than Romero, the same fighter who was competitive with Gervonta Daivs before he was knocked out a year ago.
All three judges had Barroso leading on the cards, 78-73, 77-74 and 76-75. Boxing Junkie also had the loser ahead 78-73.
However, as a result of what appeared to be an off night for the veteran Weeks, it was Romero who emerged with a world title belt and the opportunity to take part in a lucrative fight next time out.
Even Romero (15-1, 13 KOs) seemed to grasp the injustice.
“I’ll be honest, he’s a warrior and he should have been allowed to continue,” the new champ said.
Barroso (24-4-2, 22 KOs) was devastated.
“I think it was an injustice to stop the fight,” he said through a translator. “I was landing the better shots. It was a push on the first knockdown. It wasn’t a big blow or anything.
“The referee just stopped the fight and he didn’t say anything. You can see it clearly. I’m the one who’s hitting him. There was nothing clear that he hit me with.
“I don’t understand why they stopped the fight.”
Not likely. Romero, who was fighting for the first time at 140 pounds, said beforehand that he wants to take over the division. In particular, he called our another victim of Davis, Ryan Garcia.
“There’s only two fights I want,” he said. “There’s the rematch with Tank Davis. But I think there’s a much bigger option. I want to go after Ryan Garcia. We can do it on Showtime Pay-Per-View.”
He didn’t earn such an opportunity. At the same time, he wouldn’t be the first to benefit from shoddy work by officials.
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