Lamont Roach Jr. fights in memory of longtime trainer, cousin who died last month
Sometimes he’ll catch himself and think, “Was I really just shadowboxing in the middle of Target?”
Lamont Roach Jr. is obsessed with boxing — everything about it.
He calls himself a “boxing junkie” and says he eat, sleeps and drinks boxing.
Boxing always been there for him, but it all became a little harder during his last training camp. That’s when he lost his trainer, cousin and mentor since he started boxing at age 9, Bernard Roach.
Roach pushed through camp — through the pain — and defeated Luis Hinojosa last month.
Now, he’s wrapped up his first full camp without his cousin, and it’s his father, Lamont Roach Sr., who took the reins as head trainer.
Roach fights Rey Perez in his first headline bout Thursday as part of Golden Boy Boxing on ESPN, and it will be extra special for the 130-pound prospect. That’s because the fight will take place at the MGM National Harbor just a 20-minute drive from his hometown of Upper Marlboro, Maryland.
“I knew (Bernard) wouldn’t want me to give up,” Roach (15-0, 6 knockouts) recalled to RingTV.com. “I just kept pushing and I did it for him. He give me that extra push when I needed it.
“This training camp, it’s sort of the same, just different. My dad has done a wonderful job stepping up, taking over, like he was ready and I appreciate him. He did everything in his power to keep the ball rolling.”
The 22-year-old says he spoke to Bernard every day, and his father did, too. That’s maybe the hardest part.
But he knows: the more he accomplishes in boxing, the more his cousin will be remembered.
“To see where we are now, when I do accomplish more and get more rankings and more fights, more knockouts, it’s just a reflection on what he’s left behind. It’s not going to stop just because he’s gone, it’s going to continue, we’re going to live and succeed in his name.”
It helps that Roach is incredibly close with his father. They’re both huge Washington Redskins fans, and together with Lamont’s little brother and little sister, they’re a tight-knit family.
So to headline an ESPN card in his backyard is extra special. But sooner than later, if all goes according to plan, that won’t be enough for Roach.
“Eventually, not downplaying MGM,” he said, “I’m going to outgrow the MGM because it’s going to be a little small. I want to let people know I’m here … and next year I’m coming to make a statement. I’m coming for any and everyone above me. We’re aiming for the No. 1 spot. No one is going to stop me from obtaining my goals.”
Roach says he’ll carry his cousin’s spirit into the ring with him Thursday, and that will help carry him to new heights.
Mike Coppinger is the Senior Writer for RingTV.com. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeCoppinger