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Daniel Roman stays humble, hopes fighting on home turf leads to more gold

Daniel Roman has stuck with humbleness over high society since winning a world championship in September 2017.

Roman has moved into a higher tax bracket, collecting six figures for recent title defenses, but you won’t see him blowing money on expensive bling or a fleet of luxury cars. He knows to live within his means and save for what matters most.

“I’m saving up to buy my house,” Roman said. “That’s my goal right now.”

Roman knows there’s nothing like the comforts of home. Perhaps it’s only fitting, then, that Roman’s next fight, one of the most important ones of his career, will come on his home turf.

The WBA junior featherweight champ and Los Angeles native will square off against IBF belt-holder TJ Doheny (21-0, 15 KOs), of Ireland, in a title unification bout at the Forum in Inglewood, California, on Friday night. The last time Roman fought in Southern California was in November 2016.

“Beginning of 2017, January, it was in New Jersey. Then after that it was Japan in September, I believe. Then we went back again [to Japan] in 2018. [Then] Texas, and the last one, Chicago,” said Roman, who went 5-0 in that stretch, including his world title victory in Kyoto, Japan, over Shun Kubo.

On most days, Roman still trains at the Maywood Boxing Club in the working-class city of Maywood, on the outskirts of Los Angeles. This world champion is more than willing to put his daily work in alongside the likes of amateurs and young kids, who are supervised by their fathers. Through all this, Roman blends right in.

On Friday night, though, the spotlight will be on him.

“It’s the biggest fight of my career and it’s just not anywhere,” Roman said. “It’s my own backyard, where I grew up in the city of Inglewood. So all my friends and family is going to be there, for sure. So this is the moment.”

Despite fighting so close to home, Roman won’t be sleeping in his own bed this week. Roman — who had to battle a case of bedbugs in Japan — will be staying at the fight hotel. It helps him stay focused on the task at hand and keep his fight-week traditions in place.

“I don’t want any distractions. I’m taking this fight really serious,” he said. “TJ’s a great champion — he did the same thing I did, went all the way to Japan to win the world title. So it’s not an easy fight. I’m taking this as I always do.”

Roman is right on. The rugged Doheny, who won his belt last August by outpointing Ryosuke Iwasa, is a tough out. This isn’t your run-of-the-mill homecoming opponent. For Doheny, globetrotting has become natural to him, too. In many ways, he’s a boxing vagabond.

“If you are familiar with my career, I’ve yet to fight at home. I’m the road warrior,” said the good-natured Doheny. “I tend to feed off the hostile crowd — that gets me going. I’m excited, but I’m unfazed by fighting in L.A. I’m actually excited to get into another fantastic boxing city on my roster.”

Doheny’s boxing journey has taken him to Bangkok, Sydney, Brisbane, Boston and, most recently, New York, where he halted Ryo Takahashi in 11 rounds at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden in January.

“Any fighter would love to have the hometown advantage, but I think it’s whatever,” he said. “The fight comes up and it doesn’t faze me. It comes up in negotiations and I never ask for anything. It’s just, ‘Let’s get it on.’ It’s just me and him and let’s see how it goes.

“The fans can’t fight for him, his team can’t fight for him — it’s just me and Danny.”

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