In boxing, there is a certain hierarchy when it comes to fighters and what their careers will ultimately mount up to.
Some end up being legendary boxers, some will have a run with a world title or two and some will simply end up hitting their plateau at just before title contention and are ultimately fed to prospects and career-anointed golden boys.
Showtime is televising a boxing card from the world-famous Staples Center in Los Angeles on July 28 and while the main focus is on Mikey Garcia's quest to take literally any and all challenges when he attempts to unify the WBC and IBF lightweight titles against Robert Easter Jr., it isn't the only noteworthy narrative come July 28.
The opening fight of the telecast will see undefeated 140-pound fighter Mario Barrios, who is inching closer and closer to world title contention with every fight. His fight will see him take on Jose Roman, who sports a 24-2-1 record (a very solid record for a pro boxer), but most are already calling Barrios the winner, probably with a highlight-reel knockout (Barrios has won his last five fights by knockout or stoppage).
At this point, Roman would join the list of fighters that are good, but won’t be given a fair shake at any real big fights, for a number of reasons, including not being a fighter that a big time promoter has his eye on. In this case, Barrios is a part of Premier Boxing Champions (PBC), who has helped out with putting some of the fights on this particular card.
For Roman, although he’s excited for the opportunity to fight on the television portion of a major boxing card in Los Angeles, he knows he has a tough road ahead of him.
"I'm pretty happy to be fighting on this stage. It's big for me as I haven't fought on this kind of stage before. We've prepared well for what we had. We didn't get enough time to do a full training camp, but with what little time that we had, we trained hard and well," Roman said.
Roman fully understands the position that he’s in. He’s being brought in to make Barrios look good and further elevate the undefeated prospect closer to a title opportunity. He didn’t even get time for a full training camp, but given his standing in the sport, he also understands he can’t really bargain for anything more than whatever opportunities are given to him.
"It's a little frustrating to be honest, but we have to work with what they give us. I'm not a boxer fighting for the promotion (Ringstar Sports), so I'm not really in a position to ask for much. But we've been to prepare well with what we got and really were efficient with our time," Roman said.
The 30-year-old Roman has been boxing since 2008 and started his career very impressively, winning his first 14 fights with 11 of those fights coming by knockout or stoppage. He’s fought on a number of big cards in the past in Las Vegas and California, but this upcoming fight is perhaps the biggest of his career, both in terms of the event at large as well as the stakes involved for his career.
"It's a big fight and you got Mikey Garcia fighting Robert Easter Jr. in the main event and you have a lot of people tuning in to watch. The whole world is going to be paying attention to the Showtime card and it's something very motivating," Roman said.
Roman is coming off his second career loss against Wilberth Lopez last September by a wide unanimous decision, so he is perhaps more hungry for a victory than at any point in his career. A win over Barrios isn’t the only thing Roman could get.
With a national television audience watching, Barrios could set himself up for big opportunities down the road, including a potential contract with Premier Boxing Champions, who have made most of their success thanks to their affiliation with Showtime and has had partnerships with other television companies such as FOX and Bounce TV.
"A victory over him would be amazing for my career. Showtime is going to be looking at this fight and a win could bring me another shot to fight on PBC cards and maybe even a contract with them. PBC has a lot of champions and it's a goal to get to that level and fight them and hopefully make good money," Roman said.
Fightful will have live coverage of Barrios vs. Roman, as well as the rest of the Showtime Championship Boxing card live from the Staples Center.