Rising lightweight prospect Rolando Romero went the 12-round distance for the first time in his pro career on Saturday in his toughest test to date. His victory by unanimous decision, however, was anything but unanimous to everyone but the three judges.
Romero (12-0, 10 KOs), the brash slugger who was hand-picked by promoter Floyd Mayweather, appeared to get clearly outboxed by Jackson Marinez in their interim WBA title bout at 135 pounds, which headlined a Premier Boxing Champions card at the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut.
But Marinez (19-1, 7 KOs) was denied his biggest victory to date as all three judges scored it for Romero by scores of 115-113, 116-112 and an almost unthinkable 118-110 card from Frank Lombardi. CBS Sports scored the bout 116-112 for the 29-year-old Marinez while Showtime Sports had it 117-111 for the native of the Dominican Republic.
Romero, a 24-year-old native of Las Vegas, had never fought past seven rounds and predicted he would score "the most brutal knockout" in history. Instead, he landed just 12 punches over the final three rounds despite never ceasing in chasing a knockout.
Marinez outlanded Romero by a margin of 103 to 86, according to CompuBox. He was busier and sharper throughout while proving able to consistently duck the big right hand of Romero who regularly telegraphed it.
"He came out a little bit tougher than I thought but all he did was move around and not try to engage," Romero said. "It's hard to knock out a guy who moves around the whole time."
Romero, who accused his fellow lightweight fighters of avoiding him, scored his most important win to date despite just 12 bouts as a professional.
"I landed the harder punches. I landed the power punches the whole time. You can't win a fight just throwing jabs, you have to land hard shots and that's what I did," Romero said.
"I'll fight anybody, I don't discriminate. I'll fight anybody."