Rediscovering Gilberto Román, the forgotten master of Mexican boxing

Redescubriendo a Gilberto Román, el maestro olvidado del boxeo mexicano

Gilberto Roman Saldaña, Linear and world champion with 11 successful defenses, he is considered the best Mexican super flyweight of all time. He was so brilliant that there are those who consider him the historical number one in this weight division.

Roman He has the accomplishments, the record and the trophies to claim his history among the 115-pound greats globally. His untimely death in a vehicular accident on June 27, 1990, cut short the final part of his career at the age of 28.

Time has not done it justice. To date the Cachanilla He has not yet entered the International Boxing Hall of Fame, based in Canastota, New York. It is an enclosure that awaits him one day to be canonized.

Roman he compiled a record of 54 wins, 6 losses, 1 draw, and 34 knockouts. He starred in 16 world championship fights in a 10-year career. He transitioned in the first part of his foray into boxing, towards a refined style as a counter-puncher, with effective combinations and efficient defense. This, under the guidance of the legendary Ignacio Beristain.

His takeoff in boxing coincided with the death of Salvador Sanchez in 1982, also in a car accident, and also prematurely at age 23. Gilberto Roman grew up in the midst of a multi-year mourning process that left the departure of Sanchez among acolytes to sweet science, searching everywhere for the next great idol.

This unfortunate fact left a void in the hearts of the fans and it seemed that Roman he had no chance of becoming the next figure of the people.

And it is that, although Roman was comparable to Sanchez as a stylist, in the Mexican northwest, a charismatic young man named Julio Cesar Chavez, out of Culiacán, Sinaloa, had already won his hand. When Gilberto Roman was crowned in Japan in March 1986, Chavez He had been a world champion for a year and a half, and he was beginning to captivate the entire country.

RomanFor his part, he ventured into the super flyweight division, which was less glamorous. However, the Mexicali-born but Mexico City-based boxer, defensive-minded and technically competent, was one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world in his prime.

His career at the top of the division left a very elusive standard to this day, even for boxers like Juan Francisco Estrada, Roman Gonzalez Y Sr. Rungvisai.

It was not the prototype

Cachanilla he did not follow the prototypical route in the Mexican boxing tradition. And, despite being a tenacious amateur boxer, he could not get on the podium at the 1980 Moscow Olympics. This, despite the fact that he had already defeated the Pan-American gold medalist in the tournament. Alberto Mercado.

After the Olympic experience, Roman he entered the ranks of pay boxing on August 29, 1981. He won 32 of his first 34 fights in five years, including a TKO victory over the former world champion. Antonio Avelar.

Roman took revenge on Avelar on that occasion as he had previously stopped him for cuts and then managed to improve his personal record to 40-3 before having a shot at the super flyweight world title, and he had none other than the great Japanese history Jiro watanabe across the street and at home. Japanese is considered the best in the division of all time by consensus of the English, American and Japanese press.

The fight itself was devoid of drama and the date would have paled compared to the battles they have fought in this era with each other. Estrada, Gonzalez, Rungvisai Y Carlos Cuadras.

But for the purist, to see that kind of precision technical and tactical display now is to see Roman at its apex showing its typical ring generality.

The Cachanilla he feigned, struck and circumnavigated Watanabe all over. The Japanese champion mounted a comeback, but Roman He ended up winning the battle in the risk / reward calculations, displaying greater intelligence in the ring as well as a more diverse offensive and defensive skill set to take the title by unanimous decision on April 30, 1986.

Lord consistency

If something had Gilberto Roman it was the consistency to exhibit these same skills throughout his career in a division that had a brilliant era in the ’80s.

In his fourth defense, Kontoranee Payakaroon, a sensational Thai fighter, gave a lot of trouble to Roman, but the Mexican made adjustments in the final stretch of the fight to retain his belt and earn merits to start being considered linear champion at the same time.

Former linear flyweight champion, Frank cedeno, hurt Roman early during the sixth defense of the Cachanilla, but he lacked boxing resources when he realized that the defending champion was not stunned.

Previously, Antoine montero, a two-time world flyweight challenger, and reigning European bantamweight champion, was well prepared to be a super flyweight. Nevertheless, Roman destroyed it in nine rounds.

To the limit

The generalía of the ring that had Cachanilla she was pushed to the limit in a three-fight saga featuring possibly the highest combined skill level of 115 pounds at the time. Roman compiled a 1-1-1 record with the very tough Argentine Santos ‘Falucho’ Laciar, and during the trilogy, both showed the finer side of sweet science, both in a grueling body battle in short, as in a battle of exchange in the distance.

Laciar, a former flyweight champion of the AMBHe was a broad-shouldered technician who wobbled and possessed a granite jaw with a solid defense.

He came close to dethroning Gilberto Roman in an unexpected 12-round draw on August 30, 1986, to set the scene for a rematch with anti-cathartic effect.

About the rematch, el dean of the now defunct Boxing Monthly, Kile McLahan noted in a report on the best 10 super flies in history that: “Erroneously, at least in my eyes, a technical knockout was ruled due to the referee’s insistence that the blows caused the multiple lacerations to the head and face of Roman, the rematch saw Laciar take the super flyweight title of the CMB, his second in two divisions ”.

Roman, he would eventually regain his title, but it would not be against his nemesis Laciar.

Colombian madness

If the Colombian Drinks Jose Rojas, better known as Sugar baby would have been Mexican, he might as well have surpassed Roman in terms of popularity. He was an action fighter made for television.

Heading into his title fight that Roman had lost against Laciar, Red he was 27 years old. He had lost just one fight, in just his seventh professional bout against the Chilean strikeout. Martin vargas by decision in 12 rounds.

Red (37-9-1, 22 KO) mixed his intimidating weight size with a touch of madness that characterized boxers from that country in the 20th century. He beat 17 of his first 28 victims by knockout.

Red, with its youth and natural size, it was too much for Laciar, Who he beat by decision to snatch the title CMB. However, he was not considered a linear champion.

In view of Roman He played two close fights, had his moments but the veteran Cachanilla It was too much, first he lost a tough decision on August 4, 1988.

Red was completely baffled three months later in the rematch (held on the undercard of the incredible and long-awaited sequel between Sugar ray leonard Y Tommy hearns. Sugar Baby he never repeated the destructive way that saw him win the title.

The tragic death of Gilberto Román

Roman he was a fanged boxer. However, the ease of winning and boxing was not always on his side, especially after 1988.

He always behaved like a professional with class and tenacity, managing to get some quality victories with what was left of talent. He traveled to Japan to defeat the undefeated challenger, and future super bantamweight champion of the CMB, Kiyoshi Hatanaka on April 9, 1989.

He later confirmed his superiority over Laciar, once and for all, by dominant decision in the third fight played on September 12, 1989.

Once the reflections of Roman They began to diminish his status as a top fighter had basically come to an end.

Unlike Sal Sanchez, here there is no typical ‘what if’ (what would have happened if) that sums up his career. It all ended in 1990, when he was a victim of Nana Konadu Y Sung-Kil Moon, two prodigious fighters who hit as hard as their reputations indicated.

When a truck ran over Gilberto Roman, killing him on June 27, 1990 at the age of 28, and in circumstances similar to that of SaHe was already retired. I had already told Nacho Beristain, as well as his close friends.

With Cachanilla in we appeal for nostalgia, or for the benefit of the doubt about its future potential. I already had the necessary resume to dispute with Watanabe the debate and position on the number one or two of all time in this division.

With success in eleven bouts for the true lineal super flyweight title, Roman He showed excellence in all the ranges that a boxer can have. And he always did it with an IQ in the ring very advanced for his time, something that has not been seen since in the division.

And, as if to demonstrate his superiority over all those who have preceded and succeeded him, he dominated Watanabe, thus demonstrating his dominance over the best the division has ever had.

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