Romero Duno could very well be one fight away from a title opportunity
Tonight on ESPN2 (10:00 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT), “Ruthless” Romero Duno will be headlining his first event in the United States at the Fantasy Springs Resort & Casino in Indio, California. It’s a long way from from his hometown of General Santos City, Philippines, where the 22-year-old rebelled against his parents wishes and became a professional fighter. That story has been told already and, to update, Duno’s mother still hopes every scheduled fight will be his last one. His father, on the other hand, has recently warmed up to Romero’s choice these days, given the apparent success he’s had and the skills that show he belongs in the professional ranks. But if this fight goes the way Romero thinks, his parents may want to look away.
“I hope this fight will be good but I’m guessing this fight may be a bloody fight, maybe,” Duno told UCNLive.com at a media workout last week. “‘Cause (Gilberto Gonzalez is) a tough fighter. He’s good. He has power. All I need to do is fight him and win this fight.”
Duno, 16-1 (14), will take on Gilberto Gonzalez in a lightweight contest scheduled for 10 rounds. Fighting out of Mexico City, Gonzalez, 26-4 (22), has been prone to action but may have some rust to shake off since his last outing a year ago, when he fought Mercito Gesta, another Filipino hopeful looking for a shot. Gonzalez fought him to a decision loss and ended up being the second-to-last step for Gesta before he challenged Jorge Linares last January. Should Duno’s foresight be correct, it won’t be the first bloody fight in which he’s been involved and, in a surprisingly sinister moment from the shy kid, he mentioned that he likes bloodshed. He’s been on both sides of leaving and distributing blood on the canvas before, like in his first and only defeat in Russia, in which a headbutt gashed his left brow and was the crux to a wide decision loss to Mikhail Alexeev. Less than a year later, Duno got a call to come fight in America against Golden Boy Promotions prospect Christian “Chimpa” Gonzalez, and knocked him out in one of the most rollicking exposures this writer has seen from ringside. Deservedly so, Duno was offered a promotional contract after that win in March 2017, and now he makes his return to television.
“I’m really happy for this and I didn’t expect they put me on the main event,” Duno said. “I’d like to thank Golden Boy for choosing me. I hope you watch it and all the fans in the world will watch on ESPN. You will enjoy it.”
No one really expected Duno to be headlining, at this point. His most recent outing was in January on the Linares-Gesta undercard at The Forum in Los Angeles, where he blew out Yardley Armenta in one round. Duno was happy about it, of course, but was expecting a better fight. Trying to get better is something for which Duno yearns, and if you ever drop by Freddie Roach’s Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood, you’re likely to see Romero there with the same close-knit team that was in his corner for the Gonzalez fight. Duno does receive help from Roach and his right-hand man Marvin Somodio at Wild Card, and, by all accounts, he’s steadily improved since his time in the States. The right-hander sports a nice uppercut, good footwork and a solid chin but it may be tested tonight against Gonzalez, who is a puncher with a good KO rate. Duno weighed in on Wednesday at 134.6 pounds while Gonzalez, who is considerably taller than Romero, looked in great shape at 134.8.
“I hope so. I hope that the next fight is a title fight,” Duno said. He doesn’t have a Top-15 ranking that would qualify him for a world title shot, as of today, but perhaps Duno may even want a regional belt to fight for and help that process. That said, right now, he’ll have a no-nonsense Mexican in front of him to go through to get there.
Duno-Gonzalez is supported by another lightweight contest in the co-feature. Oscar Duarte will take on Rey Perez in the ESPN2 but, on the watchESPN undercard, a local unknown fighter will be making his United States debut and he too spoke with UCNLive.com ahead of the fight.
“I’ve been doing this since I was eight years old. I love to fight. My dad put me in it and ever since then, I never stopped.”
Raymond “Danger” Muratalla, 3-0 (3), is a lightweight born and raised in Fontana, California, which isn’t too far from Indio. As an amateur, he went 74-6 and, according to his father/trainer, they’ve beaten plenty of notable prospects along the way.
“I’ve got a lot of intelligence,” Muratalla said when asked to describe his style. “I’m a smart fighter. I like to dissect my fighters and I also have a good inside game. I like (Terence) Crawford, Roy Jones (Jr.), also, and Andre Ward.”
At the time of the interview, Muratalla didn’t know the identity of his opponent but that was the norm as an amateur. Benjamin Da Cunha, 0-3, is who they found for him to fight, and he’ll be making his U.S. debut after fighting in France, to no avail. Muratalla agreed that the next fight is the biggest one of his life going forward, especially considering he’s basically trying out for all to see as a promotional free agent.
“To be the best. To be a world champion,” Muratalla said about his overall goal in this venture. Raymond is soft-spoken and maybe even a little outside his comfort zone, in regard to partaking in a media workout, but there was plenty of confidence coming from the Muratalla team. According to them, their name was constantly overlooked in the amateurs but they hope to make their noise in the pro game starting tonight.