What Rolando Romero learned from his loss to ‘Tank’ Davis

The Sporting Tribune's Alan Dawson talks to promoter Leonard Ellerbe about local fighters Rolando Romero and Curmel Moton.

LAS VEGAS — Rolando Romero sat on a plane for a five-hour flight back to Las Vegas.

He was dejected, having just been beaten by knockout in the sixth round of a well-publicized bout against superstar fighter Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis at Barclays Center in New York City on May 28, 2022.

At the post-fight press conference it looked like he barely had a bruise on him — a reflection of an edge-of-the-seat chess match that had transpired between two boxers who could bang.

Though he brazenly told reporters he thought he won the fight, just a matter of hours later, he was dwelling on the result — a heavy knockout loss.

He confided in his promoter Leonard Ellerbe when they were alone in first class, as he was down — but not out.

“What are you down for?” Ellerbe told Romero. “Pick your damn head up!”

Ellerbe elaborated: “You just lost to the best fighter in the world. Tank is the best fighter out there, and you fell in a competitive fight.

“Tank’s skills are off the charts,” said Ellerbe. “His IQ is off the charts. Everything about him — he’s a complete fighter.

“So you have nothing to hold your head down,” Ellerbe reassured him. “Just like you learn from this kind of fight, you’re not gonna fight anybody better than Tank there.”

The flight may have taken off amid turbulent sadness but Ellerbe’s words reached Romero and sunlight began to peep through the clouds.

Romero bounced back from the defeat with a rebound win over dangerous puncher Ismael Barroso, and returns to the ring once more Saturday at the T-Mobile Arena against Isaac Cruz.

All his experiences to date have made him a better fighter — even the loss.

“He learned a lot from that fight,” Ellerbe told The Sporting Tribune this week. “He’s got his confidence back. And again, he’s just ready to go to work on on Saturday night.

“He’s the champ, he has a big opportunity in front of him, and he’s got to go out there and dictate the fight.”

Ellerbe continued: “He’s just got to go out there and utilize the game plan Ismael Salas has given him, which is a tremendous game plan.

“Rolly is the more athletic guy. He has really, really improved on some things that will counteract what Cruz loves to do. And I’m just excited for him.”

A victory for Romero will help silence some of his fiercest critics as those at the top of the lightweight division regard the Las Vegas fighter as the weakest of all the current champions.

It is a criticism that is not lost on Romero himself, or his promoter Ellerbe.

“When he wins, he’s in a wonderful position because they [his rivals] think this road is easy work … I like Rolly’s chances against any of those guys.”

If you spend any time at the Mayweather Boxing Club in Las Vegas, or in and around the people who make Mayweather Promotions the company that it is, you’ll quickly hear about their motto as the past, the present, and the future of boxing.

Moton is the future

In Curmel Moton, a 17-year-old who this writer regards as perhaps the baddest teenager in all boxing, Mayweather Promotions has a fighter who may well be the future of the sport.

He already walks around the Mayweather Club with the confident swagger of a veteran champion, and has control over the music that plays when he trains.

Though still just a kid himself, he’s taken on a role model position and has even sponsored 30 abused and neglected children in Clark County to attend Saturday’s fight for free. “He’s always giving back to the community,” Ellerbe said.

During the prelims, they’ll see Moton compete in his third pro bout against Anthony Cuba at the T-Mobile Arena. Though it’s his first fight of 2024, should he continue to eviscerate his opponents in style throughout the year then it may not be long before he’s seen as a Prospect of the Year.

“All Curmel has to do is be coming out, get the momentum going, and knock them down,” said Ellerbe.

“He has a big, big, big future ahead of him,” Ellerbe told us. “We’re gonna take one fight at a time and, again, he’s gonna make a lot of noise in this sport.

“He’s going to be busy this year, along with our other guys in the stable.”

Fundora has ‘a very good chance’ against Tszyu

In the main event of the evening, Sebastian Fundora steps in as a late replacement to take on Tim Tszyu in a super welterweight unification bout in which the winner could be catapulted into a mega event against Errol Spence Jr., or Terence Crawford.

For Ellerbe, Fundora has “a very good chance” to upset Tszyu in what could be a “more fan friendly fight” than the originally billed bout of Keith Thurman vs. Tszyu.

“We know [Fundora] is coming and he’s just going to fight all night long. You got to figure out a way to break his will.

“Will Tszyu be able to do that? We got to tune in Saturday night.”