On Thursday, November 30, 2017, Lamont Roach Jr. (15-0, 6 KOs) steps into the spotlight as he headlines his first professional fight and defends his WBC Youth Super Featherweight title against Filipino contender, Rey “Flash” Perez (21-8, 6 KOs).
ESPN3 (English) and ESPN Deportes (Spanish) will transmit the fight card live starting at 8:00 pm, EST/5:00 pm, PST.
Throughout his young career, the highly-touted Golden Boy Promotions fighter has dealt with all challengers with relative ease, exuding a calm demeanor inside the ring where he works his self-described boxer-puncher style to break his opponents down.
But for all the success he’s enjoyed inside the ring this year, Roach Jr. has had to deal with his fair share of tragedy outside of it as well.
Entering his WBC Youth title fight on January 28, Roach Jr. was dealing with the recent loss of his cousin Jermaine. And most recently–just days before facing Luis Hinojosa on the HBO undercard of Jezreel Corrales’ bout against Alberto Machado on October 21–Roach Jr. lost his cousin and long-time trainer, Bernard “Boogaloo” Roach.
Coach Roach was the quintessential teacher, a man who touched so many in the DC community–not only in boxing circles, but in all walks of life. Roach Jr. says that one of the main things his cousin and late trainer taught him was to be comfortable with himself.
“He did tell me a few times that he might not be here the next day, but he was comfortable with the life he lived,” said Roach Jr. “He loved himself and loved the ones that were around him.”
Now with his father, Lamont Roach Sr., leading the way in his corner, Roach Jr. is as focused as ever on accomplishing his goals and becoming a world champion.
“When I look at the bigger picture, this is what we’ve been working towards basically our whole boxing career since I started,” said Roach Jr. “This is not the last of it, and obviously there is more to go, but I feel like I’ve accomplished this through all the things I have been through. That tragic moment helped push me to understand what purpose my cousin [Coach Roach] served in my life. Now that he’s not here physically it pushes me more.”
Hinojosa, a veteran of over 40 fights, was meant to be a step up in class for Roach Jr., but the Dominican Republic native injured his ankle in the first round, which abruptly ended the fight.
Still, looking back on that fight, Roach Jr. feels he would have stopped Hinojosa later on in the bout and is carrying that confidence going into November 30.
“It was a little disappointing, I would have rather put him on his back,” said Roach Jr. “But he was on his way, I was getting him with some stuff.”
With the quick turnaround from the Hinojosa fight, Roach Jr. feels in great shape and has enjoyed a strong camp in preparation for Perez.
“Training has been going well. Eric Hernandez, Matt Abregu, they give me good work,” said Roach Jr. “And I’m still definitely in shape from my last camp.”
As far as a game plan for Perez, Roach Jr. says his team has seen a few things on tape that they’ll look to capitalize on.
“I heard he [Perez] likes to paw with his jab and come with the right hand so we’ll be looking for that, but other than that my team just wants me to focus on my game so I won’t have to really worry about what he has to do,” said Roach Jr.
A strong performance on November 30 could put Roach Jr. on the fast track towards a world title shot–something that he’s looking forward to in 2018.
“The end of 2018 should be a title eliminator or a title shot–that’s what I want to hear,” said Roach Jr. “Anybody in my weight class is a potential opponent to me, especially if they’re ranked above me. That’s who I’m gunning for, people who are above me. To be the best you have to beat the best, so the No. 1 spot is what I’m coming for.”
The 22-year-old DC native is excited to be headlining his first fight card in his backyard and when it’s time to walk to the ring he’s planning on giving fans something to stand for.
“The music is going to represent me and the city for sure,” said Roach Jr. with a smile. “The people are going to be on their feet when I’m walking out for sure and that’ll be the greatest feeling. I really don’t know what to expect because I’ve never been in this main event position where all the seats will be filled where everybody is there primarily to see me but I’m hoping it’s going to be rockin’. I want to make it a movie and a memorable night.”
Watch Lamont Roach Jr. vs. Ray Perez on ESPN 3 and ESPN Deportes on Thursday, November 30, 2017. Tickets are available via Ticket Master.
Header photo by Mikey Williams
Alejandro "Alex" Burgos is a former Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report and the Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Round By Round Boxing. He is a professional blogger, SEO Consultant and Marketing Director at Capital Practice Consulting in Washington, DC.