Super Bantamweight Murojdon Akhmadaliev defeats Danny Roman to become Uzbekistan’s first world champion
MIAMI, Florida (January 30, 2020) — WBA and IBF Super Bantamweight champion Danny Roman (27-3-1, 10 KOs) arrived in South Beach to face a tough opponent in Murojdon Akhmadaliev (8-0, 6 KOs), in his return from a shoulder injury that sidelined him for nine months. His last outing was a grueling win over T.J. Doheny in a Fight of the Year contender.
Akhmadaliev took the biggest risks in the first frame, shooting bigger shots with his left hand. The unified Super Bantamweight champion remained poised and flashed his left jab at the southpaw. The challenger landed the better shots in a left hand-right hook combination to Roman’s head. The champion landed a short left hook body shot.
Akhmadaliev unloaded his left hand in wide looping shots in the second round. Roman maintained his pace, returned wisely and continued to adjust to the challenger’s speed – and southpaw stance.
Roman targeted the quicker Akhmadaliev’s body increasingly in the third and fourth rounds. Akhmadaliev’s in-and-out bursts kept Roman focused, and the champion started to defend the attacks better while still missing with his counters up top.
Akhmadaliev might’ve stolen the fifth round with a series of powerful left hands over the last 10 seconds.
Roman’s poker face remained intact as he fired a combination of left and right hooks to Akhmadaliev’s body over the first half of round six. Both fighters unleashed short combinations before the bell.
Roman opened round seven with a commitment to Akhmadaliev’s body. The frame was fairly evenly fought. Roman mixed in an uppercut upstairs, and Akhmadaliev circled to stop and shoot his straight left.
The fireworks exploded in the final minute of round eight. Each fighter landed his share of thudding shots. Roman’s uppercut was the round’s best punch.
Akhmadaliev opened the ninth round looking to reclaim the momentum. He attacked the champion in short bursts started by a left hook to Roman’s head. With about 35 seconds to go the Uzbekistan-born challenger scored with a booming left hook just above the belt. He followed up with two more left hooks.
Akhmadaliev attacked fiercely throughout the 10th round. Roman doubled up on his uppercut, but Akhmadaliev responded with a heavy combination to the champion’s body. Roman stood in against the big rally, but Akhmadaliev looked to be the fresher of the pair. Both fighters endured through cuts around their eyes – Roman’s above his right eye.
Roman’s corner expressed their concern for the scorecards ahead of the 12th and final round. Roman heeded the instructions and rallied over the first minute-plus. Akhmadaliev danced away from the oncoming Roman, looking to maintain space and box wisely. Akhmadaliev pressed forward over the fight’s final moments and touched up the champion, but not without Roman successfully slipping and countering.
In the end, Roman’s courage – in taking the fight in his return from a shoulder injury – may have cost him as Akhmadaliev was announced the winner via split decision. Two of the judges made Akhmadaliev the first champion from Uzbekistan with cards of 115-113, while Roman took the remaining card with the same margin.
The win tied Akhmadaliev with Leon Spinks, as both men became unified champions in only eight pro fights.
All photos by Ed Mulholland/Matchroom Boxing