Thursday, June 08, 2023  |


Rolando Romero wins WBA 140-pound belt with controversial stoppage of Ismael Barroso

Rolando Romero vs Ismael Barroso. Photo by Esther Lin/SHOWTIME
Fighters Network

Rolando Romero took a while to get going, but he finally has a major world title thanks to a controversial ninth-round stoppage of Ismael Barroso on Saturday at The Chelsea Theater at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.

The official time of the stoppage was 2:41 to close out the main event contest that aired live on Showtime.
The WBA’s 40-year-old mandatory challenger Barroso (24-4-2, 22 KOs), from Venezuela, came into this contest looking to be the oldest current titlist in the sport and the lightest at 140 pounds. This was his second chance at a world title. Barroso became available for the vacant WBA title after then-beltholder Alberto Puello tested positive for the banned substance, clomiphene, last month. His departure from this contest left Romero without a challenger until Barroso was the next ranked combatant behind the fifth-ranked Romero (15-1, 13 KOs), a Las Vegas native.

Once the bell rang, Barroso was looking to be the aggressor in the contest against Romero, whose awkward style was adjusting and looking to gauge distance. Either way, the first two rounds of this fight had nothing going on outside of a slip when both tangled legs in the second round. As the third round started, it was more of the same until Barroso clipped Romero with a left that sent him into the ropes and ruled a knockdown while sliding back as the round ended. Romero was able to continue following the ten count from referee Tony Weeks.

Romero rebounded in the fourth as he caught a lunging Barroso with a right that looked to slow him down. The crowd was getting antsier, rooting for the local Romero. Barroso, however, had other plans as he kept his lunging pace going on the somewhat gun-shy Romero. This development made for a hunt-and-peck affair as the fight continued. The same hometown crowd started to turn as the eighth round closed, as they weren’t getting the action they signed up for.

In the ninth round, we got a change in the fight as Barroso was caught with a right and pushed but was ruled a knockdown early in the round. Romero picked up the pace here as the round closed when Weeks stepped in to waive the fight off—following a barrage of punches that weren’t landing. Even Romero, after the battle, stated that Barroso should’ve been able to continue. Barroso was well ahead on the scorecards until the unexpected stoppage.


Sims Edges Akhmedov

The opening bout of the tripleheader was a fun WBA 140-pound title eliminator, with Kenneth Sims Jr. defeating Batyr Akhmedov by majority decision.

The final scorecards were 114-114, overruled by 116-112 and 115-113 in favor of Sims. The judge’s scorecards were in agreement on seven of the 12 rounds.

Early on, Sims (20-2-1, 7 KOs), from Chicago, Ill., was looking to keep his distance and counter Akhmedov (9-3, 8 KOs), of Oktyabr, Uzbekistan, with his left while Akhmedov was pressing and avoiding Sims from afar. It made for real solid action from the opening bell. Akhmedov’s aggression looked to get the better of him in the second round as Sims was starting to get the better end of the exchanges and was effectively throwing combinations. Akhmedov closed out the round strong with an overhand left that was quickly his best shot.

As the third closed approached, there was some real clever boxing between the two. Akhmedov started to pick up the volume and got faster to the point of attack on Sims. Sims, however, could counter effectively when Akhmedov was closing in. The fourth proved to be the same as Akhmedov started to attack the body to set up the overhand left he landed earlier in the fight. Despite this, Sims was still successful while fighting Southpaw and effectively countering the pressuring Akhmedov. They made close, back-and-forth action between the two throughout 12 rounds.

As the championship rounds closed, the action kept going, but the energy from Akhmedov was clearly slowing down as he wasn’t pressing the issue as much as he was earlier. This gave Sims the opening he needed by peppering jabs and returning to keeping his distance to land various shots, including an uppercut used more frequently. But when the fight looked to get away from Akhmedov, as it did in the eleventh, he had one rush of output that looked to keep the contest close.

“This is what I expected,” Sims said post fight. “This is what I expected of him, but I’m a savage. I’m a dog. I have that dog in me. And that’s what I was saying during this whole time leading up to this that I had that dog in me, and I was going to show them.”


Barthelemy Coasts Past Juarez

Former two-division beltholder Rances Barthelemy tactically outboxed Omar Juarez to win the co-main event by a majority decision.

A 95-95 card was overruled with cards by 97-93 and 98-92 in favor of the 37-year-old Cuban Barthelemy (30-2-1, 15 KOs, 1 NC). Barthelemy had a 14-year advantage over Juarez (14-3, 5 KOs), from Brownsville, Texas, and used that to dictate the pace of the 10-round contest glacially.

This fight got to a slow start early on, with both looking for openings and neither pulling the trigger. That started to change in the third round as they exchanged more. Juarez was looking to press the issue with his jab, while Barhlemeny was looking to counter and flick the jab to his reach advantage and distance.

As the fifth round ended, the tactical affair showed that Juarez was looking to press the lefty Barthelemy towards the ropes and set down on punches. Barthelemy was looking to counter whenever Juarez came in but needed to match the output that Juarez was throwing. The sixth round had a glimpse of action near the end of the round as Juarez threw a shot that got the attention of the steady-moving Barthelemy.

As the fight grew, Juarez looked to be doing less and less in the ring while Barthelemy was doing just enough to swing the round in his favor. Omar’s corner pressed him as the fight continued, but the output wasn’t there for Juarez. All in all, this was a tactical matchup that favored Barthelemy as he controlled it.

“I tried to win this fight intelligently with my brains against a young fighter, and that’s what I did,” Barthelemy said. “I want a rematch even more than a title shot. I want that rematch with Gary Antuanne Russell. I want it badly.”