In the place they call “Sin City,” Las Vegas is commonly known to boxing fans as the place where some of the biggest fights in the sport are hosted.
In the outskirts of the tourist areas, there are multiple gyms where many champions train and prospects that are coming up, continue to get their work in with hopes of one day landing one of those big fights on the famous Las Vegas Strip.
Rolando Romero (7-0) is one of those prospects and with stories of vicious sparring sessions with other known fighters to match his action filled fights, it’s the main reason why there is a lot of buzz behind this Mayweather Promotions fighter.
Rolando Romero is a fighter with a limited amateur background but continues to see success within the pro ranks. Boxing has always been in his DNA as his father was a three time national champion but he needed to find boxing in his own way. In 2018, he stayed busy as he fought four times throughout the year. With his father and trainer Cromwell Gordon Bullet in his corner, he is looking to continue to ride last years success into this year. Let me introduce you to Rolando “Rollies” Romero.
AG) Rolando, thanks for taking the time to do this interview. Let’s start by telling the readers where you are from, your family back-ground and any interesting things you did growing up.
RR) I was born and raised in Las Vegas, specifically on the border of North, East and downtown Vegas. My mother is from Long Beach, California and my dad is from Santiago, Cuba. When I was nine, I got into Judo, which is a completely different art than boxing. In Judo, you get slammed into the ground or you get choked out. During that time, I probably broke about ten or eleven arms as it is a really dangerous sport. I was really good but I did get choked out one time to the point where I blacked out. I learned from that as I used that move on my opponents to choke them out after that incident. My sister is also into Judo as she was a seven time national champion, which included beating Ronda Rousey’s sister a handful of times. I did Judo from the age of nine until I was about seventeen.
AG) At seventeen, you decided to try boxing. What brought that on and what was the motivation behind it?
RR) My dad tried to force me to box when I was a kid but I just didn’t want to do it. My dad and me were watching the 2012 Olympics, specifically the Judo portion of it and it led us to watching some of the boxing as well. When I was watching, I told my dad “Pa, these guys are chumps!” Then my dad questioned me by saying that I didn’t have the balls to do it, meaning getting into the ring. So I decided to go to the gym and try it out. The first time I put on the gloves, I went into the ring with a guy who had a national title or two and I beat the hell out of him, leaving him all bloody. My dad then told me to punch him in his arm as hard as I could and I did which led him to tell me that I had pop in my punch. From there, I started to box, but I did not have the love for it starting out as I do now. The motivation coming up was that I just wanted to beat people up.
AG) What was the first fight that you remember seeing as a kid?
RR) The first fight I remember seeing was Floyd Mayweather versus Ricky Hatton. I remember that there was a lot of hype on Hatton and didn’t understand how he got beat the way he did. I understand now that I am older but back then, I was shocked how it all happened. I came up watching guys like Floyd, Andre Ward and Guillermo Rigondeaux.
AG) What is something that most people won’t know about you that is part of who you are?
RR) I like playing chess when I am not fighting. I’m into strategic games and whip people all the time in Connect Four and checkers. I’m really good at thinking not only about the next move but a few moves ahead of that one. It’s always about making the right move at the right time.
AG) What are some things that you value both personally and professionally?
RR) Family is number one, as without family, there is nothing. My closest friends are also considered my family. Family, friends and boxing are the most important things in my life. I also believe in making investments, as its just as important. I started investing when I was young and still do but I would like to get better at it as I get older.
AG) Shifting gears back to boxing, You fought in the amateurs from ages eighteen to twenty, what were some of those experiences like?
RR) In 2015, I lost the qualifier in the semifinal against Genaro Gamez. Gamez went on to lose in the finals against Teofimo Lopez. After that loss, I went to Cuba for a couple of weeks on vacation but while I was there, I trained and learned some tricks here and there to use in the ring. Mainly what I learned was to show more patience and box a little more than I had been. When I got back, I went to the qualifier again and after beating up guys four days in a row, I was robbed in the semifinals, which would have qualified me to go to the Olympic Trials.
AG) You signed a promotional agreement with Mayweather Promotions in 2016. How did that decision come about?
RR) Originally, I was supposed to sign with Al Haymon but this was during the time where the lawsuit was going on between him and GoldenBoy which didn’t allow for any signing of prospects. One day I decided to go to Floyd’s gym and went through a few wars in that ring. Floyd was watching and said he liked what he saw, so I asked him to sign me. He gave me his number and shortly after that, I was signed to his company. I looked at it as a great opportunity considering I had a short amateur career of only forty five fights. So if Floyd Mayweather wants to sign me, of course I am going to take it.
AG) In watching some of your fights, it seems like the level of intensity is sky high the minute you walk into the building. Take us through what that thought process looks like as you are preparing to get in the ring.
RR) At times, some fighters say that they get nervous or they shake prior to getting in the ring. I won’t say that I don’t get a little nervous but if I do, I find a way to channel that energy in a different direction. When this happens, it prepares me mentally and gives me the motivation to hurt whoever is in front of me. I have the same mentality when I am sparring too!
AG) It is a new year and with that comes new goals and expectations. What are your goals and expectations for this year and maybe even next?
RR) If all goes well, I would like to fight at least five times this year. Next year, I would like to fight for a title eliminator and then go for a world title. In 2020, I WILL win a world title! I recently signed with Al Haymon as my manager so I am looking forward to getting fights on both the Mayweather Promotions and Premier Boxing Champions events.
AG) When can fans expect to see “Rollies” next?
RR) Right now, I have been told that I will be fighting in L.A on March 9th , which is a card that is headlined by Shawn Porter. I don’t have an opponent yet but hopefully it all gets worked out as my last four opponents pulled out at the last minute for whatever reason.
AG) Last question, what message do you have for the current champions at 135 and where can fans follow you on social media?
RR) As far as Richard Commey is concerned, that would be easy work for me. Lomachenko would a different type of fight than Commey but I would beat him too. I don’t count Mikey Garcia as I view his belt as vacant since I believe he will defeat Spence and stay at 47. Boxing fans, you can follow me on twitter (@SignUp4Kos) or Instagram (@rolliesss).
When you see Rolando Romero in person or watch him fight, he gives off a certain aura about himself which is what fuels his aggressive boxing style. That aura reminded me of something I saw on the 30 for 30 film “No Mas” when Charlie Brotman was describing the great Roberto Duran by saying “Duran was one nasty guy.” There is an edge to Rolando that gives people the impression that he is a “nasty guy” but that’s what makes him interesting to watch. Keep an eye on this prospect because he is making a lot of noise and will soon be on everyone’s radar.