Homecoming for Lamont Roach Jr.
Since facing Jesus Lule at the D.C. Armory in March of 2016, Lamont Roach Jr. – who was born in Washington D.C. and now resides in Marlboro, Maryland – has been more or less a West Coast boxer, having fought at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, the Belasco Theater in Los Angeles and twice at the Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, California.
His most recent bout was much closer to home as he stopped Luis Hinojosa at the Turning Stone Resort and Casino in Verona, New York, on October 21.
On Thursday night, he is one of the featured performers at the MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland, when he defends his WBC Youth Silver super featherweight title against Rey Perez, on the latest installment of “Golden Boy Boxing on ESPN.”
This fight represents a homecoming for the 22-year-old Roach.
“I’m very excited,” he said last week.”It’s one of the moments I’ve been waiting for my whole career.”
Roach, 15-0 (6), who is signed to Golden Boy Promotions, has been kept active on various undercards since turning pro in 2014, after a decorated amateur career. Signing with a company based on the left coast meant having to rack up the frequent flier miles as he built his career.
“Y’ know, it’s part of the game,” he said, laughing. “Eventually – hopefully – I’ll be flying more than 3,000 miles, fighting in different countries, winning a championship or defending a championship in an exotic country or something like that. I just love boxing, so the distance is never a complaint.”
Roach is part of a new generation of boxers from the Beltway who hopes to once again make this a regular destination for world-class boxing. There was a time, not too long ago, when Lamont Peterson was drawing sizable crowds in this region. The new MGM venue has hosted a few nationally televised shows in 2017, highlighted by WBO 130-pound titlist Vasyl Lomachenko’s bout versus Jason Sosa that was shown on HBO and the infamous #GoodJobUnc fight, featuring the cheap shot heard ’round the world, after the Andre Dirrell-Jose Uzcategui fight, broadcast on Showtime.
Roach believes boxers like himself and venues such as this can lead a boxing renaissance in this market “for sure. It should be and hopefully this will get that off the ground. More events and more cards will happen out here in this area because there’s a lot of fighters of my caliber and even higher than that who should be boxing on televised cards in this area.”
“That’s the plan and we have this deal with the MGM and we’re excited about it and I think that it can be a great place for us,” said Eric Gomez, the president of Golden Boy Promotions, who makes it clear that they don’t have a multi-fight agreement with the venue but added, “There’s potential for more business.”
For Roach, this is an oportunity to show Golden Boy there is a business to be had with him in his hometown. Planting the seeds now is essential for creating an attraction down the line that can lead to a more favorable and lucrative career.
When Roach is asked if he has sold a good number of tickets for this upcoming bout, he says, “Have I? I sold all the VIP tickets. Those have been gone a couple of days ago. We almost sold out all the front row ringside tickets that we have. We’re working on selling out the rest. It’s going to be like a crowd that’s not solely for me but basically for me.”
This is a relatively small room with a capacity of just over 2,000 but, as they say, Rome was not built in a day.
“I hope they notice the feel, the atmosphere in there and, after my performance, they know that I’m here to put on a show,” said Roach, who hopes to make engagements like this a regular occurence. Gomez tells UCNLive.com, “We’re committed to doing more shows on the East Coast and, next year, we’ll be doing that.”
Roach is a solid fighter who’s technically sound and fundamentally grounded. The only thing he really lacks is power. Within a year or so, he should be ranked at 130.
“Right now, I’m right where I want to be. Every fight is going to be a step-up guy. This guy, we’re not overlooking him; we’re taking him as serious as a championship fight will be. But after this guy, we’re looking to get in there with someone within the Top 15, even Top 10,” Roach stated, “because we’re ready. Whoever Golden Boy puts in front of us, they know that I’ll be ready for sure.”
And perhaps, when that time comes, this young man will be headlining a much bigger room in D.C. Speaking of which, when Peterson defeated Amir Khan back in 2011 at the Convention Center, a young Roach was in attendance.
He recalls, “I was about three rows back and I was on the HBO telecast. The whole time, you could see me standing on the chair and everything. You could see, at the end of the fight, (Peterson’s trainer) Barry Hunter sees me; he gives me a thumbs up, at the end, and I was on the chair cheering and all that and, you ask him, and he says that’s a moment he’ll never forget. So we were there with our champ.
“That was a memorable experience, especially the fashion that (Peterson) won in,” continued Roach. “It was a close, good fight, tough fight and the crowd went crazy, once he won and I was just thinking in the back of my head, ‘Man, I’m next.'”
CROSS COUNTRY FLURRIES
Yes, I’ll be at this card and then on to Charlotte for the ACC title game this weekend…It was announced that Cletus Seldin-Yves Ulysse Jr. has been added as part of the HBO broadcast on December 16 that features the WBO middleweight title tilt between Billy Joe Saunders and David Lemieux…HBO will broadcast a card from the Forum in Inglewood, California, on January 27, that features Lucas Matthysse and Jorge Linares in separate bouts…Tickets for the George Groves-Chris Eubank Jr. fight on February 17, which takes place at the Manchester Arena, sold out in seven minutes…OK, “The Deuce” had a good first season on HBO. I look forward to the next one…Geez, the NFL’s New York Giants really are disrespecting Eli Manning…I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and I tweet (a lot) at twitter.com/steveucnlive. I also share photos of stuff at instagram.com/steveucnlive and can also be found at tsu.co/steveucnlive.