Rolando “Rolly” Romero (15-1, 13 KOs) became a world champion for the first time on Saturday night after getting a ninth round referee’s stoppage of Ismael Barroso (24-3-2, 22 KOs) in a fight for the vacant WBA 140-lb title at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.
The fight was stopped by referee Tony Weeks for seemingly no apparent reason during an exchange between the two fighters. Rolly was missing with his shots and getting nailed back at the time of the stoppage by Weeks.
Moments before the controversial stoppage, Rolly had shoved the 40-year-old Barroso to the canvas in what was a clear push, but the referee Weeks scored it as a legitimate knockdown.
After Barroso got back to his feet, Rolly, smelling blood, went after him, unloading shots but doing no real damage. During the exchange in the corner, referee Weeks stepped in and stopped the fight. The official time of the stoppage was at 2:41 of round nine.
In round three, Barroso knocked Rolly down and had him badly hurt. Rather than going for the finish in the next round, Barroso let Rolly recover. However, Barroso hurt Rolly at the end of the fourth, and also hurt him in rounds 5, 6, 7 & 8.
It appeared that Rolly’s punch resistance was gone after the third round knockdown, and he was very gunshy about letting his hands go. Rolly used a lot of movement from the fifth round on, trying to avoid getting caught again by one of the big shots from the heavy-handed Barroso.
The way the fight ended with the referee Weeks stopping it out of nowhere, it’s caused a huge amount of fuss on social media, with many boxing fans saying there was something rotten about the way the fight ended. How could the referee get it so wrong?
It was bad enough that the push by Rolly was scored as a knockdown by the referee Weeks, but then the abrupt stoppage, which came out of nowhere, took the cake.
It’ll be interesting to see if the Nevada Commission reviews the stoppage and changes the outcome to a no-contest, which is what it probably should be, given the way the fight ended.
The World Boxing Association needs to review the ending and order a rematch. Of course, with Rolly talking about wanting to move up to 147, it’s unlikely that he’ll take a rematch if ordered.