On Saturday, May 4, 2019, Lamont Roach Jr. (19-0-1, 7 KOs) of Washington, D.C., brought his WBO International Super Featherweight title to the table in a scheduled 10-round bout against NABO Super Featherweight champion Jonathan Oquendo (30-5, 19 KOs) of Bayamon, Puerto Rico.
After 10 hard-fought rounds, the unbeaten Golden Boy Promotions contender Roach Jr. earned a unanimous decision victory over Oquendo with scores of 97-92 twice and 96-93.
Oquendo came out pressing the action in Round 1 and midway through the stanza he found some success, landing a solid hook which brought a trickle of blood out of Roach Jr.’s nose.
In Round 2, Roach Jr. had more success maintaining a comfortable distance where he was able to keep Oquendo at the end of his punches. Oquendo continued to come forward, lunging head first and looking for an opportunity to work Roach Jr.’s body.
In the third round Roach Jr. began having success timing Oquendo with solid uppercuts and a slick back-step move.
But in Round 4, the ringside team on DAZN of Brian Kenny, Sergio Mora and Chris Mannix were quick to point out that Roach Jr. was hurt by a solid body shot from Oquendo–something Roach Jr. admitted in the post-fight interview.
“He hit me with a clean body shot,” said Roach Jr. “But I got myself together and continued to box him.”
While Roach Jr. was able to tie up and survive the round, it became apparent that Oquendo’s strategy of working the body was a good one.
The next few rounds were tough to call as Roach Jr. retreated continually, but he also appeared to land the more thudding blows on Oquendo who lunged in repeatedly, smothering most of his offensive output.
In Round 8, referee Russell Mora deducted a point from Oquendo for consecutive head clashes. Although Oquendo was warned on multiple occasions for holding, it was a bit of a surprise to see the point deduction for the head butt.
Mannix asked Roach Jr. about the headbutts after the fight.
“I felt them from Round 1 to Round 10,” said Roach Jr.
Roach Jr. ran with the momentum of the point deduction and put his best offensive work together in the eighth as he cracked Oquendo with multiple power-punch combinations on the back foot.
Roach Jr.’s trainer, his father Lamont Sr., made it clear after the eighth round that the fight was close.
“We need these rounds,” said Roach Sr. as he praised his sons work with the uppercuts.
The same type of fight continued to unfold in the final rounds as Oquendo pressed forward looking to land downstairs, with Roach Jr. boxing well off the back foot.
It wasn’t an overwhelmingly dominant performance for Roach Jr., but it certainly was a great learning experience that he can build off of as he looks to fight for his first world title later this year or early in 2020.
“I’m glad I got this experience,” said Roach Jr. after the fight. “This is what I need to go up to the championship level. He’s as tough as they come. If someone else brings the fight to me I know I’ll be ready. I know I can go 10 or even 12 rounds.”