“ALL the hard work paid off, all the sacrifices you make for the sport,” says WBA super-bantamweight champion Daniel Roman, sporting a fresh face from his dominant title defence over Moises Flores.
Roman, whose youthful look has warranted him the moniker of ‘the Baby Faced Assassin’, most recently earned himself a second successful defence of his 122lbs crown in Texas, continuing his notable rise to prominence.
“My dream was to be the world champion but I took it one step at the time,” he continues. “I know it wasn’t an easy road but here we are still fighting.”
That dream was realised last year when Roman made the daunting trip to Japan to challenge then WBA title holder Shun Kubo in his own backyard. In Kyoto, famous for its imperial palaces and shrines, the California native emphatically dethroned the home favourite to claim his crown in front of a bemused partisan crowd.
The now 28-year-old’s destructive display was followed up by another victorious outing in the ‘Land of the Rising Sun’, shining again as he comfortably outpointed Ryo Matsumoto in his maiden defence.
Mexican contender Flores then became the most recent victim of Roman’s, running out with a second successive unanimous decision triumph, this time back on American territory.
“I had to fight a smart fight against a tough opponent like Moises Flores,” outlined the WBA champion, looking back on his latest strong showing.
“It feels really good, especially fighting back home in the United States. I’m happy everything is going great.”
So what’s next for a world champion enjoying the most impressive run of his career?
“I will love to fight one of the other champions from the division,” he voices with confidence.
“The WBC [Rey Vargas], WBO [Isaac Dogboe] or IBF [Ryosuke Iwasa] champion. I want to fight the best in my division. But we will see what comes up in the future. I will love to fight maybe two more times before the year ends.”
Of course, Roman’s success didn’t happen overnight and, as previously outlined by the American, sacrifices had to be made, with measured, progressive steps taken along a path littered with setbacks.
The rising super-bantamweight star holds two defeats, both by decision, and a draw on his record. Those blemishes came early on in his pursuit of success in his chosen craft, having won just two of his opening four professional bouts. Not the start usually associated with a future world champion.
But the Los Angeles fighter, who arrived in the paid ranks back in 2010, believes those setbacks were simply learning experiences; obstacles that have in fact boosted his eventual performances and overall stature in the long run.
“I believe that helped me to improve and become a better fighter,” he admits. “You learn from your mistakes and that I think helped me to get what I wanted to achieve more and thank God it has got me where I am now.”
After navigating a steady climb up the career ladder, Roman is seemingly at the height of his powers and a unification clash with one of the other leading lights at 122lbs would be the next beneficial step up.
With confidence at an all-time high and momentum on his side, the baby faced world champion has no doubts over his ability to effectively contest fellow title holders Vargas, Iswasa or hard-hitting Ghanaian Dogboe. The latter has also expressed his eagerness to collide with the American after impressively breaking down and stopping Jessie Magdaleno in 11 rounds earlier this year.
“It feels good being the world champion,” declares Roman, with a satisfied reflection over what he’s achieved so far, before issuing words of inspiration for those fighting their own battles in this unforgiving sport.
“I know a lot of fighters are going through what I went through. But I want to let them know to stay focused, keep on working hard, stay disciplined and when the time comes, shine.”
He has certainly done that of late, after sparking his career into life, and now looks likely of continuing his admirable ascent within a division which will provide many more testing obstacles to overcome. But Roman’s already proved early on he can conquer such barriers.