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Danny Roman recalls how a schoolyard scuffle over soccer ball led him to brink of world title

Credit: Carlos Baeza / Thompson Boxing

Danny Roman (20-2-1, 7 KOs) didn’t grow up with dreams of becoming a professional boxer. He was more interested in soccer and the team camaraderie that defines it. That is until a fisticuff with a classmate led to a dramatic shift in the narrative.

“Who would have known that a schoolyard fight would lead me to this point,” said Roman, 26, who meets Adam Lopez (16-0-1, 8 KOs) in a WBA title eliminator this Friday, Jan. 20, on ShoBox: The New Generation live on SHOWTIME.

Roman was eight-years-old when he discovered the sweet science, courtesy of a beat down that came at the hands of a fellow classmate.

“We were fighting over a soccer ball,” recalled Roman, who is ranked No. 4 by the WBA, while Lopez occupies the No. 3 position. “I didn’t want to give it up. Next thing I know I’m getting hit all over. I was on the ground before I even knew what happened.”

“Later that day I went home and told my dad what happened. He told me I needed to learn how to fight, how to defend myself. That very same day he took me to the boxing gym.”

Roman was understandably nervous and non-committal. The odor and distinct sounds that are commonplace in any boxing gym felt foreign to him.

“At first, I didn’t even want to go,” he said. “I didn’t know anything about boxing. It was really intimidating. Here I am, eight-years-old trying to look tough amongst all these real boxers. I didn’t know it at the time, but they were sizing me up.”

“It took several months for me to begin liking it. When you’re kid, you usually play team sports where there’s a lot of interaction with teammates. Boxing isn’t like that. It’s a lonely place because it’s just you and your opponent. No one can help you once the bell rings. It took me awhile to really appreciate all the skill and preparation required to compete at the highest levels.”

Fast-forward to today and Roman finds himself in the toughest fight of his young career. With a win over the talented Lopez, Roman is one step closer to fulfilling his goal of becoming a world champion.

“It motivates me even more,” said the Los Angeles-based Roman, who comes in with a 13-fight win streak. “It’s a great opportunity. We both do similar things in that we can box and brawl. It’s an even fight. We’re both really good at what we do. It won’t be easy, but when we get this win, the world title is next.”