Rolando Romero vs. Ismael Barroso: Fun While it Lasts

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Expect fireworks when heavy hitters Romero and Barroso throw down Saturday night in a Premier Boxing Champions main event on SHOWTIME.

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Rolando Romero vs Ismael Barroso PREVIEW: May 13, 2023 | PBC on SHOWTIME

This Saturday, May 13, live on SHOWTIME from The Chelsea inside The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, entertaining KO artist Rolando “Rolly” Romero (14-1, 12 KOs) battles tough Venezuelan Ismael Barroso (24-3-2, 22 KOs) for the WBA Super Lightweight World Title atop a Premier Boxing Champions event. 

Originally, WBA Super Lightweight champion Alberto Puello was scheduled to defend against Romero, but he was forced to withdraw after failing a VADA test.

The SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING telecast (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT) will showcase the exciting super lightweight division. In the co-main event, former two-division world champion Rances Barthelemy takes on the all-action Omar “El Relámpago” Juarez in a 10-round 140-pound contest. Opening the telecast, super lightweight contenders Batyr Akhmedov and Kenneth Sims Jr. meet in a 12-round WBA Super Lightweight World Title Eliminator.  

The Story

“Rolly” Romero has made a big impact on the boxing main stage in a relatively short period of time. The Las Vegas native’s gift for gab and willingness to speak his mind without censor has turned him into one of the sport’s most sought after quote machines and headline makers. 

In the ring, the heavy-handed battler impressed fans with his moxie and fearlessness in challenging Gervonta “Tank” Davis back in May of last year. Although he ended up losing via sixth round knockout, Romero turned some heads and opened some eyes with his all-around potential.

The 27-year-old former interim WBA lightweight titlist, who holds high-water mark victories over the likes of Anthony Yigit, Avery Sparrow, and Jackson Marinez, looks to build his star power at super lightweight by capturing his first full world title.

Barroso, unlike Romero, is a man of few words and prefers to do all his talking with his fists. The old school 40-year-old battler from Venezuela has already flirted with world stage success, scoring an upset TKO victory in 2015 over Kevin Mitchell at The O2 Arena in London to capture the interim WBA Lightweight Title. He would head back to the UK five months later, sweeping the early rounds against Anthony Crolla before getting stopped in the seventh round with a body shot. 

Since the Crolla fight, Barroso is 5-2 and has managed to work his way into WBA top contender status with an upset win over the highly regarded Yves Ulysse Jr. in 2019.

The Stakes

At stake is the vacant WBA Super Lightweight Title. The winner will also earn entry into the lucrative deep waters of the increasingly intriguing 140-pound division.

The Matchup

Although Romero has worked on fine-tuning his fundamentals and has shown some progress in that area, he’s still a raw, big-punching free-swinger at heart.

In possession of a clubbing right hand and a jarring left (often thrown as a lead left hook), he can hurt opponents wherever he hits them. Recent efforts to use the jab more to set up power shots make him all the more dangerous. His awkward ring style is also off-putting to more orthodox-minded opposition.

Romero still has many exploitable defensive flaws, notably a tendency to lunge with his punches and the bad habit of keeping his chin up and head high during exchanges. He can be touched and caught flush and, despite improvement, will probably always be a bit of a “kill or be killed” fighter.

I'm gonna go and show out in front of all my people in Vegas. Super Lightweight Contender - Rolando "Rolly" Romero

Barroso is an offense-minded southpaw who applies steady, constant pressure throughout a fight. Although not a firebrand pressure fighter, he’s unflappable and self-confident and makes for a tough foe, always in position to seize an upset victory.

His jab is decent, but his frequent use of that jab, as both a range finder and as a setup to power shots, makes it a prominent part of his offense. His most potent weapon is a strong straight left hand that he likes to throw behind the jab. 

On defense, Barroso is below average and not hard to touch. His constant push forward, though, does tend to keep opposition on their back feet, something which gives him some added reaction time to block or work around incoming shots.

The Words

Rolando Romero (Courtesy of The Last Stand with Brian Custer)

“I'm gonna go and show out in front of all my people in Vegas. I'm so excited to be here in my hometown. Much respect to Ismael Barroso for taking this fight and giving me this opportunity to be able to win my belt. It's not gonna go the distance. But if it does, who cares? All I know, May 13th I'm gonna be world champion.”

Ismael Barroso (Courtesy Boxeo de Colombia)

“We're grateful for this opportunity at the world title. We're ready and prepared for what's to come. [Romero] is a young fighter with a desire to be world champion, but we also have that desire to be world champion. He thinks this river will be easy to cross, [but] it won't be...He's not going to have an easy time with me. He's going to be surprised when we get into the ring.”

The Breakdown

Both Romero and Barroso will be coming forward looking to exchange and, given that neither is exactly a defensive wizard, it’s safe to assume that this fight will be a last man standing battle. It’ll be a contest pitting Barroso’s efficient, but sometimes plodding and predictable offense against Romero’s sloppy, awkward, but more dynamic, attack.

Barroso’s punches are straighter and more technically correct. Romero’s punches are wider, but heavier. It’ll just be a matter of who lands the right shot at the right time. Expect some jockeying for position early on as both fighters will want to be the one coming forward, pushing the other back. But, aside from that, there’s not likely to be much tactical nuance or science to this contest.

Romero was knocked out by Gervonta Davis in his last bout. Barroso has been stopped twice in his pro career, both via body shot. For the Venezuelan, endurance has been an issue against higher level opposition. Rolly, meanwhile, has only been past seven rounds once. 

The safe money may be on Romero’s more explosive punching power carrying him to victory. However, Barroso is dangerous, especially early on, and has performed well in the role of underdog. 

Whatever the case, Romero-Barroso this Saturday should be a whole lot of fun while it lasts.

For a closer look at Romero vs Barroso, check out our fight night page. 

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