Lamont Roach Jr., Yves Ulysse Jr., Bilal Akkawy score victories on Canelo-Rocky undercard
NEW YORK – Junior lightweight contender Lamont Roach scored a hard-fought unanimous decision over Alberto Mercado on the undercard of the Canelo Alvarez-Rocky Fielding super middleweight fight on Saturday at Madison Square Garden. Roach, The Ring’s No. 10-rated 130 pounder, won by scores of 99-91, 98-92, 97-93.
The Puerto Rican fans in attendance thought the scores should have been closer as Mercado, of Humacao, P.R., had his moments in the bout including nearly scoring a knockdown in the second round, causing some redness around Roach’s nose.
After getting off to a slow start, the 23-year-old Roach started to take over in the fourth round by landing big left hooks which bothered Mercado. Roach (18-0-1, 7 knockouts) wasn’t able to put his combinations together until later in the fight as the Washington D.C fighter sensed he needed to step on the gas pedal. Roach looked good in the sixth round when his jab opened up the door for a big right hook sending Mercado (15-2-1, 3 KOs) back into the ropes.
The crafty Roach found a home for his right hook in the seventh-round sending Mercado backwards again, but the Puerto Rican fighter fought back inviting Roach to slug it out with him, but the younger fighter decided to work behind his jab which kept the aggressive Mercado off balance.
Roach defended a minor WBO title and said before the fight he hopes his promoter, Golden Boy, is able to secure a world title bout for him in 2019. This was Roach’s second straight win following a controversial draw with Orlando Cruz earlier this year in the veteran’s native Puerto Rico. Roach rebounded from the draw to stop Deivi Julio Bassa in July.
Montreal prospect Yves Ulysse Jr. (17-1, 9 KOs) won an eight-round unanimous decision over Maximilliano Becerra (16-3-2, 8 KOs). The official scores from ringside were 79-71 and 78-72 (twice).
Known primarily for his sharp technical skills, the 30-year-old Ulysse came to New York City intent on slugging it out with Becerra, scoring two knockdowns in the sixth and seventh rounds. Ulysse first dropped Becerra with a hard-straight right hand. Becerra beat the count and came right at Ulysse with power shots of his own causing the Canadian fighter to retreat and slip the punches.
In the seventh round it was another overhand right by Ulysse that buckled Becerra and made him take a knee. Ulysse made a valiant effort to jump all over Becerra, who is a sparring partner for Vasyl Lomachenko, but the California-native managed to make it to end of the round. Ulysse has now won his third straight bout since suffering a split decision loss to Steve Claggett last October.
In the opening bout of the evening, heavy-handed super middleweight prospect Bilal Akkawy (19-0-1, 15 KOs) defeated Victor Fonseca (17-9-1, 14 KOs) by seventh-round TKO. The official time of the stoppage was 2:53.
The 25-year-old Akkawy dominated Fonseca by fighting in close quarters and battering him with multiple-punch combinations that Fonseco had no answer for. Akkawy has become known for possessing knockout-type power in both hands and it was evident in the second round when he opened up a cut on the bridge of Fonseca’s nose with a two-punch combination that went straight through the Mexican fighter’s guard.
Fonseca found success in the third becoming busier and landing power shots on the Australian fighter but Fonseca’s power didn’t seem to bother Akkawy much. By the fourth round Akkawy started backing Fonseca back and the amount of punches started to diminish Fonseca’s durability. As the power punches started piling up for Akkawy referee Steve Willis jumped in and saved Fonseca from further punishment.
This was only the second time fighting on U.S. soil for the 25-year-old Australian who is now trained by Canelo Alvarez’ trainer Eddy Reynoso. Reynoso brought in Akkawy as a sparring partner for Alvarez for the Golovkin fight and saw potential in the unbeaten slugger.
Akkawy is coming off a unanimous decision victory over Cristian Olivas last September in Las Vegas while Fonseca carried an eight-fight win streak heading into tonight.