Unified Super Bantamweight champion Danny Roman’s injury scratches his MSG title defense, and halts the division’s momentum
WBA and IBF 122-pound champion Danny Roman recently informed fans that an injury has derailed his September 13 title defense versus WBA mandatory challenger Murodjon Akhmadaliev. The bout was expected to be the chief support to the event’s main event, a WBC eliminator between Lightweight contenders Devin Haney and Zaur Abdullaev.
Fortunately, for the young exciting upstart Haney, as well as his fledgling partnerships with Matchroom Boxing and DAZN, the card was nearly over-stacked based on how the line-up was originally built. In addition to Haney’s opportunity for a significant step towards his first world title, the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden is set to host a couple of exciting attractions:
- Seven-weight World champion Amanda Serrano (36-1-1 27 KOs) challenges WBO World Featherweight champion Heather Hardy (22-0 4 KOs) in an all-Brooklyn battle.
- Michael Hunter (17-1 12 KOs) challenges Sergey Kuzmin (15-0 11 KOs) for the WBA Intercontinental Heavyweight title.
In terms of Roman (27-2-1 10 KOs), after coming off of an action-packed hometown bout with former IBF champion TJ Doheny in Los Angeles in April, missing out on a potential repeat performance against Akhmadaliev squanders some excellent momentum for the 29-year old.
The unification bout with Doheny culminated in a legitimate fight of the year contender, serving as an excellent lead-in to the emergence of Pound-For-Pound performer Juan Francisco Estrada as he disarmed former WBC Super Flyweight champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai in the DAZN-streamed main event. Roman, nicknamed “The Baby Faced Assassin”, has made the most of DAZN appearances and a fifth successful title defense could have further elevated him as a solid player in the streaming app’s future scheduling.
Golden Boy Promotions, another key entity in DAZN’s boxing programming, could facilitate a second unification bout with their Rey Vargas (34-0, 22 KOs) – the WBC Super Bantamweight champion. Matchroom’s Eddie Hearn has already established a positive working relationship with Bob Arum and Top Rank, so a showdown between Roman and 24-year old WBO champion Emanuel Navarette (28-1, 24 KOs) might present Hearn with one of his best opportunities to get a win in a head-to-head rivalry in which the polarizing Brit is starting to fall well behind. Philadelphia’s undefeated boxer-puncher Stephen Fulton (17-0, 8 KOs), the IBO champion, is a surging talent in the division that fights under the Premier Boxing Champions banner who appears to be on an in-house collision course with interim WBA champion Brandon Figueroa (20-0, 15 KOs).
Super Bantamweight is another loaded division laden with young talented champions, and contenders, that currently facing a window that can be used to draw in new fans as the sport’s more popular divisions – namely Welterweight, Middleweight and Heavyweight – continue to allow business to block the most coveted matchups available. Some of the same promotional players are involved, but all of the respective rewards for the aforementioned fighters may outweigh any of the inherent risks. Once Roman returns to action, the champion figures to play a key role in how it’s all sorted out – for fight fans’ sake.
As for the outlook of the balance of the card and Haney – and by extension DAZN – next Friday night in the Big Apple, safe to say fight fans are in good hands with the Las Vegas-based 20-year old, as well as Serrano-Hardy.
All photos by Jack Strutz/Matchroom Boxing