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Rolando Romero Reinstated As WBA 140 Lbs Champion For Isaac Cruz Fight, Not To Be Penalized For Not Fighting Barroso

Rolando Romero Reinstated As WBA 140 Lbs Champion For Isaac Cruz Fight, Not To Be Penalized For Not Fighting Barroso featured image
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - MAY 13: Rolando Romero (R) talks with Ismael Barroso after beating Barroso in a fight for a vacant WBA super lightweight title at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas on May 13, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Romero beat Barroso by TKO in the ninth round. (Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images)

Rolando Romero is now the WBA super lightweight champion again after his title was relinquished last year while he was put into champion-in-recess status in lieu of an injury he suffered. Though Romero will be formally making his return on March 30 against Isaac Cruz, the 140-pound champion was actually expected to face Ismael Barroso who still reigns as the WBA interim super lightweight champion since January 6th this year, but the WBA has allowed Romero to fight Cruz instead―despite their own rules dictating the returning champion could be stripped upon not facing the designated (in this case interim) champion.

While the WBA’s language surrounding a champion-in-recess remains decisively vague in order to allow it the flexibility to change its rulings upon their own whims, it is quite clearly stated that the returning champion is at least expected to face whoever is the champion upon their return from the circumstances that had forced them into becoming the champion-in-recess.

Rolando Romero Reinstated As WBA 140 Lbs Champion For Isaac Cruz Fight, Not To Be Penalized For Not Fighting Barroso image 1
WBA’s section C. 22 of their official rules.

While the WBA’s rule does make it clear that the inactive champion (champion in-recess) should defend their title against the “Champion”, which refers to the interim champion in this case, the WBA’s wording allows the sanctioning body express authority to decide otherwise; as appears to be the case with Rolando Romero (15-1, 13 KO’s) who has been allowed to fight Isaac Cruz (25-2-1, 17 KO’s) without facing any repercussions.

Venezuelan fighter Ismael Barroso (25-4-2, 23 KO’s) deservedly became the WBA interim 140 lbs champion after defeating Ohara Davies (25-3, 18 KO’s) in the first round on January 6th this year. Barroso had faced Romero prior in 2023 when he lost through a controversial stoppage. While a rematch between the two was therefore expected with the WBA title on the line, Cruz instead became the surprise next opponent for Romero―skipping over Barroso and several other super lightweight/junior welterweight contenders despite never having fought at 140 lbs before.

Romero will be defending his title against Cruz on March 30, and though the WBA did not explicitly state he was no longer a champion-in-recess, their official report indicates that the WBA title is no longer vacant, which presumably means that Romero is a world champion once more. Last year, Romero had been forced to relinquish his title and be considered a champion-in-recess following reports of an injury that would keep him out for at least the entire year.

The WBA also appeared unbothered by the prospect of Isaac Cruz moving up from lightweight judging by their sanctioning of the bout, and the sanctioning body has completely ignored the fact that Cruz is unranked in their 140 lbs rankings; which can mean that they will simply rank Cruz in their upcoming rankings, set to be updated at the end of this current month.

The sanctioning of this match presents showcases how the WBA operates outside of their own rules and regulations, as no efforts have been made to order Romero to face interim WBA champion Barroso instead; despite Barroso having literally fought for the opportunity to fight for a world title, and to face Romero again, hence his interim champion status.