A thrilling night of fights at the Forum was defined by the theme of coming back and achieving validation.
Danny Roman returned to his Inglewood home Friday to show his fans what he’s been doing on the world stage, adding a second super-bantamweight title to his collection.
And Mexico’s Juan Francisco Estrada came back to face the same opponent in the same ring where he achingly lost last year, finding redemption.
Estrada became a two-division champion by dethroning Thailand’s Srisaket Sor Rungvisai by unanimous scores of 116-112, 115-113 and 115-113 in an all-action World Boxing Council super-flyweight main event before a crowd of 5,127.
Roman (27-2-1), by knocking down Ireland’s TJ Doheny in the second and 11th rounds and relying on his relentlessness and body punching, claimed a majority decision victory by scores of 113-113, 116-110 and 116-110.
The victory gave World Boxing Assn. champion Roman the International Boxing Federation belt that Doheny (21-1) had worn before suffering his first loss.
The difference was Roman’s grit and ring awareness, strengths he built in road bouts dating to 2017 in Atlantic City, Japan and Chicago after plying his trade at club shows in Ontario and Corona.
As the fight was moving out of its feeling-out stage, he belted Doheny on the right side of the jaw with a left hand, knocking him down in the second round. Doheny’s face would begin to swell and his nose trickled blood, but he hammered Roman with left hands in a riveting fourth and the pair thrilled the crowd with exchanges in the sixth.
The seventh was even better as Doheny jarred Roman with his power lefts and Roman hung on with rights that landed cleanly late.
Roman said he was advised by his trainer Eddie Gonzalez before the eighth, “don’t get into that,” and Doheny failed to sustain the pressure, allowing Roman to seize the outcome with power blows to the head, and then the body in the 10th.
“I connected two or three [lefts to the body in the 11th] and saw he was starting to go down,” said Roman, who delivered another to drop Doheny in the bout’s defining moment and claim his 19th consecutive victory.
Said Doheny: “The body shots broke me down slowly. But I am an Irish fighter and we are warriors, so we stick around until the end.”
Roman learned WBC champion Rey Vargas has a bout scheduled for July, but said, “Give me Rey Vargas. I want the fight.”
That led to Estrada-Rungvisai, a rematch of the 2018 “SuperFly” bout at the Forum that the heavy-hitting Thai fighter claimed by majority decision.
This time, Estrada (39-3) flashed quicker hands and superior fundamentals early against Sor Rungvisai (47-5-1) and foiled the Thai champion’s plan to confuse his Mexican foe by switching from a left-handed to an orthodox stance.
“It surprised me, but I felt him out well,” Estrada said after delivering effective combinations and clean punches to the head, then backing up Sor Rungvisai in the seventh and urging the champion to meet him in the center of the ring.
A punishing, five-punch sequence by Estrada to close the eighth seemed to have the outcome in hand, but Sor Rungvisai, who two years ago knocked out the sport’s former No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez, switched back to his natural left-handed stance and punished Estrada with power blows in the 10th and 11th.
The situation was repeating in the 12th when Estrada closed like a champion should, delivering a combination and a slew of left hands that added resignation to the bruises on Sor Rungvisai’s face as he lost for the first time since 2014.
Asked why he kept trading punches while in the lead, Estrada said, “I needed to show the Mexican fans and everyone here tonight that I was going to win that belt.”
Estrada said if Rungvisai “wants a third fight, I will give it to him. I would prefer to fight some other champion first.”
Earlier, in his super-welterweight debut, former welterweight champion Jessie Vargas scored a sixth-round technical knockout of former two-division champion Humberto Soto of Mexico.
Vargas (29-2-2, 11 KOs), in his first fight under seven-time trainer of the year Freddie Roach, first floored Soto (69-10-2) early in the sixth with a hard right to the jaw after the 38-year-old dropped his hands.
Vargas then attacked the dazed veteran with a flurry of punches that featured four hard rights, backing Soto to the ropes without a responding punch, convincing referee Thomas Taylor to stop the fight 1:48 into the round.