There is no sure-fire way to get to the top in boxing. What works for one fighter, wouldn't be appropriate for another in terms of working towards winning a world title. What may be certain though is having two early defeats only makes the road longer and harder.
Danny Roman (25-2-1, 9KOs) is a fighter that has travelled the long and hard road. Two early career losses didn't deter him and he captured the WBA super-bantamweight title in September last year, winning far away from home in Japan against Shun Kubo.
In this interview I ask Danny about numerous aspects of his career so far and hear what the Californian thinks of his fellow title holders at 122lbs and his plans for the future.
Danny made his second successful defence of his title last month on the Errol Spence card in Texas. We kick things off there.
CM: Hi Danny. Congratulations on your June 16 title defence against Moises Flores.
What do you remember from the fight? Did you feel as if you were in control all the way through the contest? What were your thoughts on the Friday when Moises failed to make weight?
DR: My fight against Flores went as expected. I wanted to fight my fight and not let him get comfortable. I knew he was going to come in heavy because he had trouble cutting down to the weight. We used that to our advantage though. We went hard at the body throughout the fight and it showed. He was worn out well before the fight ended. There was no question in my mind that I dominated him. I landed a bunch of hard shots throughout the fight. As far as Flores not making weight, I thought it was extremely unprofessional of him. This is a world title fight. You need to come in and make weight.
CM: Now going back to the very beginning of your boxing journey. What was it that first got you into the sport? How old were you when you first went to the boxing gym?
DR: I started boxing kind of by accident. I was seven or eight years old at the time. I was playing soccer one day and this kid took the ball away from me. I went to go get it back and that's when he started punching me. He beat me up. I ran home and my Dad saw that something had happened. I told him the story and the next day he took me to the boxing gym so I could learn how to defend myself. At first I didn't really like boxing. It was pretty demanding. Lots of repetitions for things that I didn't even understand. But after a few months I started getting into it and stuck with it. It's crazy how some moments that seem pretty ordinary can change your life forever.
CM: Sorry to bring this up but during your early days as a pro you lost twice (4th and 11th fights). In boxing today a huge amount of importance is placed on fighters remaining undefeated as the are working their way up the rankings. As someone who lost early but still came back to become world champion what are your thoughts on the ‘protect the 0 at all costs' trend and what would your advice be to any young pros regarding this?
DR: It was tough mentally to go through those losses because I knew I could be great. I just had to improve in certain areas, specifically defence. But it's a challenge because promoters don't pay attention to a prospect with two losses or a draw or two. I just stayed motivated and dedicated to the sport. I stayed in the gym and got better. That's really all I can say to anyone that is trying to work their way up. Be married to the sport and good things will happen. The drive has to come from within. If you need someone pushing you and telling you to get in the gym, then it will never happen for you.
CM: In September 2017 you travelled to Japan and defeated title holder Shun Kobo to win your current belt. You returned to Japan in early 2018 and defended it against Ryo Matsumoto. My question here is what were these experiences of fighting in Japan like?
DR: The Japanese people are very friendly and kind. They treated me very well on both trips. Fighting in Japan was a tremendous experience for me. For both fights, my team and I arrived about two weeks ahead of fight night so we could get used to the time difference and weather. One thing I wasn't expecting was how small the food portions are. It actually worked out great because I had to watch my diet anyway so the small portions helped me get down in weight. I never over ate. I was a professional the entire time I was there. I had one thing on my mind the first time and that was to knock out Shun Kubo and bring that world title home to Los Angeles. The second time it was all about making my name in the division. A lot of fighters win world titles, but the memorable ones defend it for years on end. That's what I want to do. I want to go out as a world champion.
CM: From Japan to Texas last month – you have been on your travels a lot recently. As a Los Angeles native do you dream of headlining a card in that great fight city at some point? Perhaps at a famous venue like The Forum?
DR: It would be awesome to headline a fight card in my hometown. There are a lot of boxing fans in the Los Angeles area that would love to see me fight at The Forum, Stubhub or Staples Center.
CM: The title scene at 122lbs looks evenly matched to me and that could lead to some very interesting unification fights within the division. How do you feel you matchup against your fellow world title holders at super-bantamweight?
DR: I've been on record as saying that I would like to unify. I feel like a unification fight is what the division needs. I like my chances against any of the other champions. They are talented in their own ways and would present different challenges, but that's what I want. I want to fight the best. That's the only way you can measure your talent and skill.
CM: Finally, what's going to be coming up next for you? I noticed reports of a unification fight with WBO title holder Issac Dogboe. Is that coming in the near future? How far ahead do you look or are you just a fight by fight guy?
DR: It's a fluid situation. My promoter, Thompson Boxing, has had discussions with the management teams of the other title holders. I'm hopeful we can get a unification fight with one of them by the end of this year. If not then, maybe early next year. It's bound to happen.