ONE of three world title tussles on Matchroom’s Miami show sees the ever-improving Daniel Roman defend his WBA and IBF super-bantamweight straps against former amateur standout Murodjon Akhmadaliev. The contest was originally set to occur in September last year, but an injury to the champion’s left shoulder resulted in a postponement.

Roman, 27-2-1 (10), drew one and lost two of his first 11 fights, but has since won 19 on the bounce. The Los Angeles native, 29, made his name by notching consecutive victories in Japan. He picked up a secondary WBA belt in September 2017 when halting the previously unbeaten Shun Kubo in nine rounds, before being elevated to full titlist in January 2018. The next month he shone in the Land of the Rising Sun again by unanimously outpointing the dangerous Ryo Matsumoto in decisive fashion. Two further defences followed in June and October of that year – against decent names in Moises Flores (ud 12) and Gavin McDonnell (rsf 10) – prior to a unification clash against the in-form TJ Doheny nine months ago. Roman took a majority verdict over Doheny, although he probably deserved a unanimous win.

Uzbek southpaw Akhmadaliev, 25, garnered World silver (2015) and Olympic bronze (2016) during an extensive career in the unpaid code. Based in Indio, California, the WBA mandatory contender has marched to 7-0 (6) since turning over in March 2018, though none of his opponents have been particularly noteworthy. His impressive amateur pedigree and explosive power makes him a real threat.

Despite being the betting underdog, the pressure-fighting Roman’s vastly superior professional seasoning could prove the difference here. With his varied punch selection and energy-sapping body blows, the pick is for the American to edge Akhmadaliev on points, with the considerable jump up in quality coming too soon in the challenger’s pro journey.