By Derek Bonnett: The Espinoza Boxing Club has been working very hard over the last couple years to build a stable of fighters to carry their name into the next decade and further their stature among the bigger names in boxing. World champions Martin Castillo and Israel Vasquez have done their share, but Castillo is no longer actively fighting and Vasquez is certainly in the latter stages of his own career.
Recognizing and managing young talent seem to be gifts of Frank Espinoza Sr.’s and ones he is passing down to down to Frankie Jr., so he too can carry the EBC to greater heights. One of these skills relates to keeping a fighter’s name and accomplishments out there, and here at Secondsout, that’s our business.
On April 8 at the Marriott Hotel in Irvine, CA, USA, flyweight prospect Manny "Suavecito" Roman will continue to march through pugilistic puberty as he meets Anthony Villareal in a scheduled eight round affair. Roman-Villareal will be headlining the five bout card.
The twenty-one year old Roman, originally from Tijuana, Mexico, now fighting out of Paramount, CA, has run off a 14-0-1 (5) record with one no-contest. The flyweight knows a thing or two about hard work and expects he’ll be calling upon that knowledge as he progresses through the professional ranks.
"Growing up, I didn’t always have the finest things. My family and I lived in a rough area," Roman explained. "But I had loving parents, who worked hard to give me everything that I do have. I learned through them, that if you want something, you have to work hard to get it. You have to earn it. I plan to take those lessons and apply them to my boxing career. I’m going to work hard for my dream to be a world champion. I’m going to earn it."
Like many fighters, Roman got into the sport because of the environment he lived in. With Mexico’s rich boxing history, a young man can hardly walk the streets of Tijuana and not somehow be reminded of the sport. "Suavacito" took to the sport quickly and had his family there for support.
I got into boxing because I grew up with it," Roman stated. "It was a way for my father and I to bond. At the age of eight, I started to go to the gym and learn the sweet science. I really enjoyed it. I had over 100 amateur fights and turned pro at the age of sixteen."
At a time when most boys are pushing their way through their school books and hoping to catch the attention of a pretty girl, Manny Roman was already doing the work of a man. That work also required that he fight grown men too. Sometimes it was paid experience, but other times it was gym work. Regardless, the neophyte found himself in over his head early on, but took something even more valuable away from the experience.
"We came across Manny Roman when my dad I went to watch our champion at the time, Martin Castillo, train," Frankie Jr. recalled. "My dad and I were impressed by how this young skinny kid was giving our champ a run for his money. One thing lead to another and we eventually signed Manny. It can be difficult managing a flyweight because in this division it can be hard to find opponents. But at the end of the day, it’s a great division because these guys truly display the sweet science at its best."
In the ring as a professional, Roman hasn’t yet had to encounter anyone with anything nearly as threatening as "El Gallito" Castillo, but he’s had some bumps along the way: a draw in his sixth bout, a no-contest after an accidental head-butt two years later, and a knock down against him in the first round of his most recent victory. Yet, things still look positive for the future.
"I’m satisfied with the progress of Manny. In his young career he has been tested, but has always found a way to prevail," Frankie Jr. reasoned. "That tells me a lot about him. He’s only twenty-one years old and will continue to improve. We feel Roman is right on track. We don’t have an exact time table for him since he’s still young. We have time on our side. But he will be fighting for the WBC youth title in his upcoming fight against Anthony Villarreal. And although we expect a tough fight for Manny, we are confident that he will continue to find a way to win."
One sure way to determine the value of a young prospect is to match them tougher and tougher each time. The EBC seemingly has this process down to a science. Along with fellow stablemates Jesus Hernandez, Luis Roman, Ronnie Rios, and Carlos Molina, Manny Roman will be tested. The good thing is that the Espinozas will make sure it happens long before any of them challenge for a world title.
It’s been said there is no such thing as an easy fight due to the amount of preparation that goes into getting ready beforehand. The best fighters, however, find away to make it look easy. On April 8, we’ll see how much Manny Roman has learned from the hard road and just how easy he can make things in the ring.