In an international feature bout, Australia’s Antonio Caruso clashes with Canada’s Anthony Romero. This will be Caruso’s Lightweight debut after taking a brief hiatus from MMA to make his professional boxing debut in 2022. Caruso holds a notable win over former ONE Championship Lightweight/Welterweight champion, Eduard Folayang. Romero is also a well credentialed martial artist, holding a unanimous decision victory on Dana White’s Contender Series in 2020. Only one man can walk away with a win and a chance at a PFL contract, so let’s get to the action.
The fight begins and both fighters sprint to take the center of the SmartCage as the fighters both probe with jabs and low kicks and look to find the range. Caruso looks good early as he seems to be the one throwing more volume and landing at a decent clip as Romero slips a straight punch and returns with a beautiful liver shot.
Romero lands a big overhand right as Caruso throws a naked low kick but Caruso resets and continues marching forward. Romero does an excellent job chaining together his attacks, shooting a takedown off a hook that lands and getting Caruso to the mat briefly but Caruso gets back up only to be taken down again with a nice little Judo toss from Romero.
Romero is doing a good job staying busy with the position as Caruso again gets back up and again gets taken back down as both men land in the pocket and Caruso looks to clinch along the SmartCage. Caruso lands a big right hook as he closes distance to clinch again but Romero is able to step through and land an outside trip, taking the back of Caruso and getting both hooks in with 30 seconds remaining in the round! Caruso locks up the body triangle but likely won’t have time to finish as he peppers in short punches and the round comes to an end.
Caruso opens the round with high volume once again, landing a big kick to the body of Romero. Both fighters are landing early in the round as Caruso seems to be pulling away a bit, landing the heavier shots in the exchanges.
The fighters continue a back and forth affair until Romero drops Caruso with a big one two combo halfway through the round and Romero starts pouring on the ground and pound! The referee looks long and hard about stopping the fight but Caruso is doing just enough to keep it going!
A scramble ensues as Caruso attempts to recover and Caruso winds up on top but the referee stops the action, taking a point from Caruso for a fence grab that could have majorly altered the outcome of the bout. That’s a tough break for Caruso but the right call. Caruso is showing some crazy heart here, coming back and taking Romero down and doing some damage before the round ends.
Round three begins with a perfect Romero takedown and some damage and control before Caruso is able to get back to his feet and land some big punches, but not without eating a big knee from Romero for his trouble.
Romero initiates the clinch but Caruso quickly pummels for an underhook and reverses position, dropping his level and shooting for a takedown which Romero is able to sprawl on and use to take the back.
Caruso however does an excellent job of staying busy with it and using the whizzer to get off his back and back to the fence with two minutes remaining in the round. Romero takes the back again and has the hooks in with 90 seconds to work and he’ll need a finish to impress the fans and judges and earn a PFL contract.
Caruso is still working as Romero peppers him with punches and attacks the neck, looking for the rear naked choke as the round and fight winds down. Romero is running out of time to finish but is putting quite the exclamation point on this fight, finishing with strong control despite Caruso getting off a hammer fist to end the fight.
Anthony Romero outworks Antonio Caruso, flashing a little bit of everything in a strong all around victory
Anthony Romero def. Antonio Caruso via unanimous decision (30-26 3x)