By Derek Bonnett
This weekend’s major bouts between Takashi Miura and Miguel Roman, Miguel Berchelt and Francisco Vargas, and Leo Santa Cruz and Carl Frampton had several things in common. Inside of the ring, no one knew for a certainty who would win, each appeared to be a Fight of the Year contender on paper, and regardless of how the cards fell, boxing fans knew they would be the true winners. Afterward, all of these statements were realized.
Takashi Miura, 32, had just one victory separating him from the defeat to Francisco Vargas which cost him his super featherweight title. Rated fifth by the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, Miura has a tall task ahead of him in tough Mexican veteran Miguel Roman. Roman, the smaller man, pressured the action of the bout from the get go and Miura felt him out with a jab over the first three minutes. The first round was not heated, but Roman landed good right hands on the way in. Neither fighter dominated, leaving the round even. Miura continued with the jab as Roman stalked the Japanese fighting landing some pretty good left hooks and right hands to the head. Miura was forced to hold a few times as Roman dug downstairs in round two. Roman continued with his body assault in round three, but was clipped with a counter left. Miura started his own work in the basement and it was immediately clear that his punches were harder. He moved those shots upstairs in what looked like one of 2017’s first contenders for Round of the Year. Then, they did it again in round four! The war began in this frame with Miura landing nice power shots to the head when he was able to create or keep distance. Roman was stung at the bell. After four rounds, SecondsOut saw the bout even at 39-39 or 1-1-2 in rounds.
The Mexican tough guy from Juarez resumed his assault on Miura’s mid-section, but his shots to the head had raised large welts around the eyes of the former world champion. Even with diminishing eye sight, Miura nailed Roman with an overhand left for the best punch of the round. Miura captured some more space in the sixth and began landing longer range power shots. Roman pressed forward for more body punches and uppercuts on the inside. Miura looked wobbled at the close of the round and his eyes continued to swell. Miura sensed the urgency in the air and came out for the seventh landing some big left hooks. Roman appeared to play possum for moment to bait the Japanese boxer in, but Miura left the bait on the hook. A Roman uppercut dislodged the mouthpiece from Miura and the Mexican continued to grind the body. Roman was cut from an accidental clash of heads in round eight. Miura looked tired as he ate more and more uppercuts from the ninth rated super featherweight at SecondsOut. As Miura tired, Roman threw punches in volume of the ropes, conserving some energy. After eight rounds, Secondsout favored Roman 79-75.
Miura was warned for head-butts in round nine. The former champion looked to be swinging for the fences in a last ditch effort to salvage victory. Roman began to slow from powerful left and right hooks to the body. However, he still connected with short hooks on the inside. Miura came on in the tenth, having found his second wind. Roman was wobbled with a big hook, but continued to grind up the middle. A monstrous left hook to the body, arguably the best punch thrown this year, took all the wind out of Roman’s sails and, likely, his lungs. The Mexican hit the canvas in what looked like a fighter ender, but the brave warrior rose to his feet near the end of the round and was saved. Roman looked to be still hurt at the start of the eleventh. Miura loaded up on some wild shots, but Roman was not able to avoid even the most telegraphed blows at this stage. The streaking Mexican was downed again under a barrage of punches. Yet, he rose again and heard the sound of the bell for the twelfth and final round. However, he would not hear the final bell. A left hook finished an exhausted Roman in the twelfth and the bout was halted at the :53 mark.
Miura raised his ledger to 31-3-2 (24) and is poised for a shot at the crown he lost to Vargas in 2015’s Fight of the Year. Roman, 31, fell to 56-12-0 (43), but should not lose much credibility as a dangerous contender.