Former unified super bantamweight champion Danny ‘The Baby-Faced Assassin’ Roman 28-3-1 (9) bounced back with a 12-round unanimous decision win over former world champion Juan Carlos Payano 21-4 (9) at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut on Saturday night.
The victory on the Jermell Charlo vs Jeison Rosario undercard comes after the 30-year-old Californian lost his WBA and IBF titles to Murodjon Akhmadaliev in a fight of the year contender in January.
Payano set the pace for the fight, pressuring Roman throughout the contest who adjusted in the later rounds to outbox the 36-year-old Dominican in the WBC 122-pound title eliminator.
Right at the final bell Roman appeared to drop Payano with a left hook but it seemed he hit the canvas after the gong. It was ruled no knockdown.
Judges Kevin Morgan, David Sutherland and Don Trella all delivered the same verdict, a 116-112 win for Roman.
According to CompuBox, Payano outlanded Roman in 10 of the 12 rounds, but the better quality work came from the former unified champ.
Roman’s body punching seemed to impress the judges with 79 of 152 shots landed, while Payano had the edge in total punches landed at 261-152. It was the most punches landed by a Roman opponent in fights tracked by CompuBox.
Roman admitted his southpaw opponent forced him to dig deep to win.
“I don’t take anything away from Payano,” said Roman. “I knew it would be a tough fight. He brought everything he could and I took it, made it a fight and came out victorious.
“He kept on landing his uppercut to the body early, but we adjusted our defence to avoid the shot and tried to pressure. I couldn’t brawl with him, so I had to box and use my distance a little more.
“He was countering me well because I wasn’t taking the distance away. I had to either block or get out of the way. After I started doing that, it worked out and I started throwing combinations. I saw I was hurting him to the body so I kept putting pressure on.
“I was trying to win every round and dominate. The last four rounds my trainer told me to step it up so the same thing didn’t happen that happened in my last fight. That’s what we did. We made the last few rounds convincing.”
Roman has already laid out his plans to become world champion once again.
“We’re at the level and ready to fight the Luis Nery vs Aaron Alameda winner,” Roman continued. “I still have unfinished business with Murodjon Akhmadaliev. I want that rematch. If not that, then I’m ready to fight [WBO champion] Angelo Leo.
“It’s always good to have your hand raised. I can’t take anything away from Payano. He’s a veteran and he knows a lot of tricks. I had to adjust. It feels good to get a win again and I’m looking to keep that feeling going.”
Roman unified his WBA title with TJ Doheny’s IBF strap by majority decision in April last year before losing the belts to Akhmadaliev 8-0 (6) nine months ago.
Payano was the third straight southpaw that Roman has faced.