Romero Duno continues to make his mark
Backstage at the Forum, in Inglewood, California, last Saturday night, Filipino lightweight prospect Romero Duno couldn’t hide his smile, as the doctor checked him out after his eight-rounder with Juan Pablo Sanchez. Duno was better than OK, after his unanimous decision win, and, while that’s more than enough reason to be happy, the shy 21-year-old was reacting to the awkwardness of a stranger, in this case, the commission official, just inches away from his face, asking questions easy enough to be considered laughable.
“I learned a lot, especially with my stamina because I usually have knockouts. Now I have good experience budgeting my stamina and turning it on and off,” Duno told UCNLive.com, after the standard protocol. “I could not believe that (Sanchez) could take my power punches but he’s a great fighter who took my best shots, so hat’s off to him.”
Duno, 15-1 (13), didn’t let Sanchez go completely unscathed. In the fifth round, he forced a cut on Sanchez’s left eye from one of his many right hands, throughout the fight. Duno won convincingly but the drive to try and stop his opponent at the end created a fun action fight that garnered cheers, once it was over, which is something the predominantly Hispanic crowds in Southern California don’t just hand out freely. Surrounded by his team, Duno was genuinely happy about his performance but he took on a more serious tone, when reminded about the conversation at the previous Wednesday’s media workout.
“I want to prove to them that my fight against ‘Chimpa’ wasn’t just luck, that I deserve the contract and that signing me is not a mistake,” said Duno three days before the fight. Duno was signed by Golden Boy Promotions last March after brutally knocking out one of its prospects, Christian “Chimpa” Gonzalez.
“I didn’t expect a finish like that,” recalled Duno about the fight, which was also his United States debut. After that victory in Los Angeles, Duno and his team were ecstatic and were the only ones in the ring, as the crowd stood in awe, as Gonzalez was taken out of the ring on a stretcher. “I couldn’t believe I won that fight. No one thought I could win.”
Once arriving at the airport in his hometown of General Santos City, Philippines, Duno was greeted with a hero’s welcome. It was planned all along by his team, most of whom are involved with the Sanman Boxing Club, in which Duno cultivated his craft and first discovered his love for the sport. It was a nice surprise for him and a thoughtful gesture from his team considering they knew what he has sacrificed to get here. Three years ago, he lived in the gym for an entire year and pointed out that spending Christmas and New Year’s by one’s self is no celebration.
“Well, my parents don’t want me to play boxing,” explained Duno on how he got to that juncture. With a 2-0 at record at the time, Duno knew his parents didn’t want him fighting but managed to turn pro behind their backs. One day, he was supposed to be watching his parent’s market but snuck away to the gym to train and that’s what started it all. “When I went home, they didn’t want me to come back unless I quit boxing.”
Being 18 and out of your parents’ home is more uncommon in the Philippines than it is in the U.S. but Duno went forward with his career, knowing he had a knack for fighting – a dream for many kids in the city from where eight-division champion and modern-day legend Manny Pacquiao hails. Surely he used Pacquiao as a prime example for his own positive outlook but, even to this day, the Dunos won’t budge.
“They don’t even care if they see me being successful at this. Every fight, they say this should be my last fight,” he said.
Duno doesn’t resent his parents for their disagreement and has seemed to find an extended family, while pursuing his hopes and dreams. They huddled around quietly as the quick post-fight interview came to its final question and it was a reminder of who wasn’t here and what he’d tell them if they were. That’s when the smile dissolved.
“I would tell my mom and dad that hopefully they accept this as my life. That’s all I always wanted.”