Filipino lightweight prospect “Ruthless” Romero Duno takes on former world title challenger Juan Antonio Rodriguez in the main event of Golden Boy’s Thursday Night Fights series at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, California.
The bout, which will be streamed live on RingTV.com and televised on regional cable sports networks, has grown into a sort of friendly grudge match as each man has vowed to knock the other out.
Duno (19-1, 15 knockouts) is seeking a modicum of revenge against Rodriguez because the Mexican gatekeeper knocked out fellow Filipino Mercito Gesta this past March in Hollywood, Califonria. For Rodriguez, who was out of action for 20 months prior to the stunning upset over Gesta, he knows another loss may preclude him from ever challenging for a title again.
“I am coming into this fight ready for anything he can bring,” Duno said by phone hours before stepping on the scales for the weigh-in. “We worked hard and prepared for a tough fight because we know Rodriguez is strong and yes I will get revenge for what happened to Gesta.”
Rodrguez (30-7, 26 KOs) has fought former titleholders Jezreel Corrales, Javier Fortuna and Billy Dib, believes he has the experience and power to get to Duno the same manner he was able to dismantle Gesta.
“If he wants to talk about revenge, well, we can talk about revenge,” Rodriguez said. “He beat Gilberto Gonzalez, right? So, I will get revenge for that fight (for Mexico). I saw the video where he said he was going to try to get revenge, well, all he can do is try because I will beat him. I promise you that and I will knock him out. I watched his fights on youtube and it took me three minutes to figure out he is a perfect match for me.”
After suffering a decision loss to Pedro Campa in Mexico in June 2017, Rodriguez was out of the sport while trying to figure out if he was ever going to get another shot at a meaningful bout. Staying in shape paid off when his promoter Rafael Paco Damian of Paco Presents called him about an opportunity to take on Gesta who was ranked No. 2 by the WBO at the time. Although Rodriguez wanted to jump at the opportunity, Paco was hesitant and told his fighter that Gesta hits pretty hard and it might not be a good idea as a comeback fight.
“I told Paco I hit hard too,” Rodriguez recalls. “I told him to make the fight because I was hungry for the opportunity and I knew I was going to beat him. I was punishing him and was prepared to punish him all night if the referee didn’t stop it.”
Rodriguez credits the losses in his biggest fights with giving him the experience he needs later in his career to get the crucial victories which will keep his career alive.
“I learned the most in the loss to Billy Dib,” Recalls Rodriguez. “It was my first time fighting outside of Mexico and I realized I needed to gain more courage. Everyone was against me, from the referee to the judges. I learned I needed to prepare better and have more confidence in myself.”
Duno and his team believe they will earn a world title shot with a victory over Rodriguez. In his most recent bout, he scored a sensational second-round knockout over India’s Kuldeep Dhanda. After fighting four consecutive times in the United States, Duno decided to take a fight back home in the Philippines and scored a brutal knockout which instantly went viral all over the boxing world. Duno is willing to send Rodriguez to the same fate.
“That knockout and his past performances have built him a huge following back home,” said Jim Claude Mannagquil, Duno’s Philippines-based promoter. “We are so happy to partner with Golden Boy for a co-promotion because they are the best in the business and will get Duno the maximum exposure in the U.S. and all over the world. We are confident if we beat Rodriguez, we will get a world title shot this year.”
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