News April 2019

Roger Romo talks new beginnings, sparring Pavlik, Martinez plus Vargas TV show


By Michael J Jones

Roger Romo

Sometimes a talented young fighter finds his climb to the top of the fistic mountain far from straight forward. At the first glance at the boxing record of unbeaten prospect Roger Romo, one may wonder why he has participated in just eight pro contests in some twelve years.

If you are quick to count out the 31-year-old’s chances of still reaching the top maybe it’s a good time to point out that there’s far more to the talented Californian than at first appears…

Romo is the younger brother of former IBF Junior-middleweight champion Fernando Vargas. His older sibling is set to feature in a fly-on-the wall series later this month called ‘Welcome to Los Vargas’ featuring the fighter formally known as “Ferocious” alongside his wife and family.

“I’m really happy for him to be in the show as many think Fernando as the villain but people will see him in a different light” Roger tells Livefight when we caught up with him earlier this week.

“He’s a really good guy, has a funny sense of humour and all the members of the family are all characters so it should be an entertaining show.”

Vargas retired a few years ago following a loss to Ricardo Mayorga but was plotting a comeback a while ago which never materialised.

“Yeah he was in full training” reveals Romo about his brother. “He was working with Floyd Mayweather Sr and learning some great things but he just didn’t feel right. He felt his reflexes and timing weren’t what they used to be so he said ‘you know what I have money and a loving family I don’t really need to do this any more’, I think it takes a real man to admit that.”

In his own career, 6’2” Roger attributes his slow progress to several issues and has also had to overcome a series of injuries. Last year he damaged his rotator cuff which later required surgery. At present, the Oxnard native (he calls it “Boxnard”) has been out of the ring for eighteen long months but is now focussing on 2014.

“I’ve had a lot of issues with different things and sometimes it hasn’t helped the fact I’ve tried to do things on my own” concedes the 168lb fighter. “I’ve been waiting out my injury last year but now I’m ready for one more round.”

With injury troubles behind him is the plan to keep as busy as possible from now on?

“That’s exactly my plan; fight at least five or six times this year, get a ranking and then fight for a title. That’s my ultimate goal. I know I’ve only had eight fights but I’ve worked with very good fighters in Kelly Pavlik and Sergio Martinez so I know I can fight at a high level.”

The 31-year-old has benefitted from extensive sparring with both former and present middleweight rulers and has even become friends with Pavlik. The Youngstown puncher has been dogged by negative press since his retirement but Roger paints a different picture about his pal.

“I trained a lot with Kelly, we ran and sparred together and the sparring was always good. He even said it was some of the best he ever had with me. He said I hit hard and was as tough as nails. It was always sparring where we both had to think and it was never one-sided either way.”

Romo whips Tommy Turner

“Kelly Pavlik is one of the most wonderful people I have ever met in my life. He has a few drinks and people hound him but he’s not causing trouble or anything. I think many are biased in that they want to see him do badly but they should just leave him alone.”

“A while ago I was going through a bad time when my uncle died and Kelly called me up and said he was coming down to hang out with me. I was like ‘sure’ but I didn’t think he would. Anyway couple of days later he turns up with a couple of friends and just the clothes on his back just to hang out with me a while. I count him as one of my best friends and he’s a great person.”

“He said to me a little while ago about making a comeback but I said ‘no’ don’t do it (laughs).”

Is he as close to Martinez the current champion who ended Pavlik’s reign in 2010?

“I worked with Sergio from the Bunema fight through to his fight with Pavlik. I learned a lot and he is a very intelligent fighter and looked out for me for a while. He’s a great guy and showed me a lot.”

As many speculate (unfairly to this writer) “Maravilla” is on the slide, I ask Romo what his former sparring partner has left?

“I think firstly he has done a very smart thing from his last fight (a controversial decision over Martin Murray) and that’s to wait and heal all of his injuries.”

“The thing with Sergio is he’s a hard worker, doesn’t party or drink alcohol so I definitely think he has a good few fights left in him. They are talking about him and (Miguel) Cotto fighting and that’s an awesome fight for (Martinez). I think he stops Cotto in seven or eight rounds.”

“People say he hasn’t been the same since the Chavez Jr fight but Sergio broke his hand in the fourth and dominated the fight with one hand. He got dropped in the last and he could have held on or smothered but he came right back and fought hard and finished with grit. He showed he is courageous the way he finished that fight.”

Roger Romo is currently 5-0-3 (1) as he plots his return. He last fought a draw over four rounds with a fighter named Lawrence Letuli. I’d read it had been a something of a war with Letuli hurt in the first before fighting back hard to the thrill of the crowd.

“I just caught up with that fight, people were saying I couldn’t go toe-to-toe because of my fight before so I guess I got caught up with the crowd in that fight. I still thought I won three of the rounds but I fought the wrong fight. I’m an intelligent boxer I shouldn’t have fought that way.”

HOping for a big 2014: Romo

The super-middleweight is currently working with trainer Adam Flores in Oxnard. Roger knows the Garcia family well and has done much work at the family gym but understands that the Garcia style of pressure fighting isn’t fully suitable to his own.

“I feel although I’ve never shown my true potential I’ve shown little bits here and there. It can be a frustrating sport but while I’ve been on the side lines I’ve had a chance to sit back and appreciate the sport. I’ve had many people ask me when I’m fighting again and that support is flattering and motivates me greatly.”

“You know I’m not going to say something silly and call out Andre Ward; he’s going to be a legend and guys like Carl Froch they’re awesome fighters too but get me a few fights and I’ll fight a contender, someone like Anthony Dirrell and hopefully that will put me in a position to take things to world level.”

Before we end our interview I have to ask about the many YouTube videos of the Mexican American’s impersonations. He does an uncanny Juan Manuel Marquez…

“(Laughs) yeah I’ve been trying to stop doing that as people keep leaving angry comments about me! I hear they showed one of them to Marquez and he laughed and conceded I did sound like him.”

Before we say goodbye Roger insists on giving credit to his many fans including several here in the UK.

“I appreciate all of the support I get especially my friends in the UK, you guys are die-hard boxing fans and a couple of my UK friends, Simon Holder and Callum McKeever, even came and visited me here in the USA.”

Livefight would like to thank Ohio boxing trainer James Dominguez for helping to set up the interview.

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