El Paso, Texas — Miguel Román’s attempt to become Juárez’s first world champion ended with the referee showing compassion and stopping the fight in the last seconds of the ninth round. He hugged him against the ropes and in doing so kept his younger, taller and more skilled opponent, Miguel Berchelt, from pounding away with another combination.
It seemed like Román’s only chance at winning was walking through those punches but when he did, all he could do was land one or two punches. The fight ended but it felt like it could have easily been stopped several rounds before.
In the sixth round, Román appeared to be knocked out. As he laid on the floor, Berchelt climbed the neutral corner ropes, flexing as if he’d fulfilled his promise. When Román stood up, just as Berchelt turned back to the ring, the latter looked surprised that Román was still there. Before the round ended, Berchelt dropped Román and again, Román stood up. He survived but the fight was effectively over.
Chants of “Mickey, Mickey,” and “si se puede” — yes we can — erupted sporadically throughout the fight, trying to help Román. He’d only respond in spurts, landing a punch or two before Berchelt returned knocking Román’s head back before skipping away.
When the fight ended, two seconds from Román surviving yet another round, Berchelt celebrated. Román stumbled back to his corner. He sat there, on his stool, looking down at his feet. It was his third attempt to win a world championship and like the previous chances, he lost.
Román’s corner placed an ice pack on his neck and consoled him. Berchelt also came over to talk to Román. Berchelt wore his green WBC super featherweight belt across his chest and when he hugged down at his opponent, who remained seated on his stool, the belt rested inches from Román’s face — as if mocking him further. When Román finally stood up and walked around the ring, the crowd cheered the 33-year-old who has been in far too many brawls.
When someone raised Román’s son onto the ring, Román, hugged him and cried. He gently touched his beaten forehead against his son’s. He said something in his ear that unfortunately, neither of them may ever remember.