Rolly Romero vows to knock out Gervonta Davis in the first round

Rolando “Rolly” Romero comes to the phone and speaks. He hasn’t even said hello, but when he hears another person on the other end of the line, he’s on his way to the races.

He meets Gervonta “Tank” Davis for the WBA lightweight title in the main event of a Showtime pay-per-view card at the Barclays Center in New York on Saturday.

Davis is the nominal star of the show, but he despises doing media, so he sat back and let Romero go with it. And he has to walk.

Romero remains largely an unknown in the wider boxing world, despite being one of the division’s toughest hitters at 14-0 with 12 knockouts.

He’s a massive underdog for Davis. BetMGM has Davis as a favorite at -1000 and Romero at +550, but that hardly bothers him. In fact, he sees the many bets he’s received at sportsbooks around the world as a validation of his talent.

“Bro, I’m messing up the world,” he told Yahoo Sports. “Have you heard that 78 percent of the bets are on me? Did you hear that? People know. I’ll take this shit. I’m taking over this whole boxing world. This is unheard of.”

Romero was born in Las Vegas and grew up in North Las Vegas to Cuban parents. His father, Rolando Sr., was a high-profile amateur in Cuba who won three national titles but didn’t make it big because he was a nonconformist.

“My father was very problematic and they don’t take care of problems there,” Romero said. “If you’re problematic, they don’t put you in the national team. They won’t let you do anything. He was a street kid. They want you to be a servant of the country all the time, you know? There are a million stories about Cuba. I’m sure you can find many articles about the atrocities that Cuban militants faced there. Cuba is terrible. When you train in Cuba, you train barefoot on sandy soil most of the time. That’s the way it is.”

BROOKLYN, NEW YORK - APRIL 07: Rolando Romero answers questions during a press conference at Barclays Center on April 07, 2022 in Brooklyn, New York.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Rolando Romero answers questions during a news conference at the Barclays Center on April 7, 2022 in Brooklyn, New York. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Romero was into judo as a young boy, but it wasn’t until he was 17 that he got his kick-start into boxing. Growing up in poverty, he said he would lie in bed at night listening to the sound of gunshots.

He always bragged to his classmates that one day he would be a star. He has been involved in many fights, often because he was being bullied because of a speech impediment. He said he was frequently suspended.

“I don’t know, 20 times, maybe even 30 or 40 times,” he said. “I was bullied a lot, so I got into a lot of fights. I’ll be honest with you: I don’t know how I didn’t get kicked out.”

At the age of 17, after a visit to Cuba, he made the decision to go boxing. He realized this was his path to fame.

And despite having an unconventional style, he discovered power in both his hands and that gave him a chance every time he stepped into the ring.

“There’s no doubt that this kid can hit,” said promoter Leonard Ellerbe of Mayweather Promotions. “I know damn sure he can hit. He’s a big lightweight, maybe the greatest out there. He’s one of those guys who just got it.”

Davis has long been the star of the Mayweather Promotions stable and Ellerbe has been protective of him, even recently when Davis spoke of leaving the company after his contract expires on Saturday. Davis is 26-0 with 24 knockouts and is considered one of boxing’s rising stars.

Although the odds are good for Davis, Ellerbe warned not to underestimate Romero.

Ellerbe pointed to several big upsets that have occurred in boxing over the past year as proof that anything can happen.

“Will you look at all this excitement and then tell me that with all his strength, Rolly doesn’t stand a chance?” said Ellerbe. “Please.”

Romero was the star of the promotion and wasn’t afraid to point it out. He has poked fun at Davis at every opportunity, saying the only reason Davis is undefeated and so highly regarded is “good matchmaking.”

BROOKLYN, NEW YORK - APRIL 07: (LR) Gervonta Davis competes against Rolando Romero during a press conference at Barclays Center on April 07, 2022 in Brooklyn, New York.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Gervonta Davis competes against Rolando Romero during a press conference at the Barclays Center on April 7, 2022 in Brooklyn, New York. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

He knows Davis was a Mayweather Promotions darling, but said, “They’re going to go where the money is. And the money will stay with me. I will be the next superstar in boxing and it starts on Saturday.”

He said Davis isn’t fighting for the legacy or because he loves the competition, but because he needs the money.

That, he said, was not a good sign.

“I’m the one selling the fight,” Romero said. “I’m the one making this happen. The only reason Tank is even taking part is because he needs money. If he doesn’t have any money, he goes to jail for doing stupid stuff in the past. He’s broke. He didn’t make as much money off Pitbull as he thought he would [Isaac] Cruz and he’s broke. He’s one of those people who lives paycheck to paycheck.

“I will win this fight, there is no doubt about that. I’ll knock him out. I’m the bigger, more explosive, faster fighter. I’m the better boxer. Anyone can say whatever they want, but Tank is pretty slow. He only fights guys who are very slow. He’s been patched up by all these guys, and now he’s going to fight someone as fast, explosive, and powerful as me? … I’ll get him out of there in the first round. I see his big head land in one of my fists and I’ll get him out of there in that first round.”

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