Duty to one’s parents is a fundamental principle of Filipino culture, and Romero Duno’s mother and father wanted him to go to college. Even though his heart wasn’t in it, Duno obediently studied marketing at the University of Mindanao, but after a year, he’d had enough.
Instead of following his parents’ wishes, he decided to pursue his own dream and became a professional boxer.
“I just wanted to stand and succeed my own way,” Duno said. “I want to make my own story. I dream of becoming a world champion like Manny [Pacquiao].”
On Thursday, Duno (16-1, 14 KOs) headlines a Golden Boy on ESPN card against Gilberto “Flaco” Gonzalez (27-4, 22 KOs) at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, California. The lightweight bout is scheduled for 10 rounds.
Duno, 22, has had 13 his fights in the Philippines and one in Russia — which resulted in his only loss, to Mikhail Alexeev in May 2016. The Gonzalez bout will be his fourth in the United States. It was, however, Duno’s U.S. debut, on March 19, 2017, that produced a major breakthrough.
He was a B-side opponent going up against undefeated prospect Christian “Chimpa” Gonzalez. But instead of the anticipated victory, Gonzalez was brutally knocked out in the second round.
Duno floored Gonzalez with a right hand in the opening round, and then did it again in the second. Gonzalez struggled to his feet after the second knockdown, but referee Thomas Taylor immediately stopped the fight.
Moments later, Gonzalez collapsed in his corner and was carried from the ring on a stretcher. Fortunately, he recovered, and he has won two of three subsequent fights.
Duno has tallied three more wins since the sensational upset of Gonzalez, a second-round knockout of overmatched Jason Tinampay back home in General Santos City came first. He then returned to the U.S., winning a pair of fights at The Forum in Inglewood, a unanimous decision over Juan Pablo Sanchez and a first-round knockout of Yardley Armenta Cruz.
When campaigning in the U.S., Duno is trained by Rodel Mayol (a fellow Filipino and former junior flyweight titleholder) at the Wild Card Gym in Hollywood, California, where his regular sparring partner is lightweight titleholder Raymundo Beltran.
Despite his success in the ring, Duno’s parents are still apprehensive about the career choice he made. During a recent phone call, his mother begged him to quit boxing and return to school. His father, however, seems to have adopted a more pragmatic attitude. He understands his son isn’t going to change his mind.
“He said that I need to be careful,” Duno said. “That’s all.”
Mexico City’s Gilberto Gonzalez, 30, will be fighting for the first time in 13 months. In his most recent bout, he lost a 10-round decision to Mercito Gesta in an exciting give-and-take shootout. Prior to that, Gonzalez had won eight straight by knockout.
One of Gonzalez’s best performances was fifth-round knockout of Jeffrey Fontanez, who was unbeaten in 15 pro bouts before “Flaco” knocked him down three times en route to a dominating victory.
The former Mexico City Golden Gloves champion has an aggressive style and punches hard enough to have 73 percent knockout ratio. On the other hand, he doesn’t always use his boxing skills and has been known to neglect defense.
“I think Gilberto Gonzalez is a good boxer and a strong puncher. He’s a dangerous opponent,” Duno said.
Expect fireworks. Both of these guys come to fight.
In the co-feature, undefeated prospect Oscar Duarte (13-0-1, 9 KOs) faces Rey “The Technician” Perez (22-6, 6 KOs) in another lightweight 10-rounder.
“He’s a very aggressive fighter, and he’s one of the hardest hitters I have in the gym right now,” said Duarte’s trainer, Joel Diaz. “Everybody that he spars, they always complain. He’s a forward fighter. He likes to come inside, and he has power in both hands.”
“I have the real Mexican style. I like to move forward and look for the knockout. I love to exchange,” said the 22-year-old Duarte. “I think Rey Perez is a great opponent. He’s very consistent, and he’s durable. He also has a lot of experience. I’m expecting a great fight.”
Perez, 27, won 17 of his first 19 pro fights but sagged to 5-7 in his next 12 bouts. Still, he returned from an 18-month layoff to win a unanimous decision over “Chimpa” Gonzalez on Feb. 22, 2018, one of his better performances.
A resident of Sindangan, Philippines, Perez has fought quite a few name fighters, including Lamont Roach, Jessie Magdaleno and Hugo Cazares, but lost to them all. We can expect a similar result against Duarte.