The hot desert backdrop of Indio CA is a fitting setting for the price of sweat and focus the sport of boxing requires as its toll to achieve victory and the glory of a hand held high in victory. Inside the Boys and Girls Club boxing gym the walls are lined with fight posters and newspaper clippings of the areas fighters and past World Champions Julio Diaz and Timothy Bradley Jr.; however the fight posters that grab your attention are the ones of the lesser known fighters. Kids that have fought and won in their respective amateur weight classes have posters on the wall with graphics and highlights as if they were prime time fight night or blockbuster movie posters, an image that brought a feeling of pride for kids I don’t even know but an understanding of the motivation they represent.
In this building today I met with Jose Roman (17-1-1 12 KO’s) who has a fight scheduled for September 26th against the older veteran Hector Velasquez (56-22-3 38KO’s) at the Double Tree Hotel in Ontario CA. Upon meeting Jose the first thing that came to mind was that this kid: gives a good first impression, carries himself well, walks tall, and acts like a pro. Roman was born in Orange CA, grew up in the city of Garden Grove and was taught the basics of boxing by his father when he was five years old. Jose Roman Sr. from Tijuana Mexico, home to some of the great Mexican fighters took Jose to a boxing gym when he was eight years old where he fell in love with the sport after travelling and fighting in amateur tournaments as a child. “I pretty much owe everything to my dad you know, he’s always been the one to push us to do boxing. I started falling in love with the sport when I started travelling and meeting new people I just fell in love with the sport.”
The topic of his opponent brings a look to the face of Jose that appears eager, hungry, and with a smile says “I know he’s a veteran and he’s fought all of the greats earlier in his career, lately I haven’t seen too much of him but I remember as a kid I had seen some of his fights.” Roman understands the value and step up in competition “it’s a big step because everybody that wants to be a world champion has to step up and fight the hard veterans that have fought the best and he (Velasquez) was there.”
Roman has won his last three fights and has teamed up with renowned trainer Joel Diaz who has guided Timothy Bradley Jr. to world titles and most top 5 pound for pound lists. “In the gym right now we’ve been working on using speed more than power, using my arm length and distance you know because I’m a fighter that likes to fight and Joel is trying to get me to box and use my advantages.”
Trainer Joel Diaz “Hector Velasquez is a good fight for Jose because of the experience you know he’s a veteran in the sport he’s fought a lot of world champions (Manny Paquiao, Israel Vasquez, and Edwin Valero) and former world champions and this experience in the ring is going to help Jose step up to that next level because Hector Velasquez has seen every style of every type of fighter so it’s a great step for him.” “As a young fighter Jose has a reach advantage and a height advantage, he needs to establish his jab and move around and not try to make it a dogfight with a guy like Velasquez because he’s very experienced and he is not going to make you look good, he knows every tactic in the book, so we have to be smart and box him around if we have to go the distance then we go the distance.” When asked what his fighters strengths are “Jose’s been hitting really hard, he has a solid left hook and if the knockout comes then it comes.” “I think he has a good possibility to knock Velasquez out if he catches him with a good left hook.”
The card is properly titled “Path to Glory” all goals begin on some form of a path with potholes and turns that ultimately end at a stated desire. Jose Roman’s path takes another step September 26th focused on the task of winning the Garden Grove fighter sacrifices the sweat, pain, and focus the sport of boxing requires for glory.