By: Sean Crose
“This week is definitely the last week of hard work,” rising superfeatherweight Lamont Roach tells me over the phone. We’re only ten days away from his fight against 15-1-1 Alberto Mercado at Madison Square Garden, but the 17-0-1 Roach seems easygoing and confident. The Mercado fight, which will appear as part of the Canelo Alvarez – Rocky Fielding DAZN card, is for the WBO International Super Featherweight Title. In other words, it’s another stepping stone on the Washington DC native’s rise to the top. “Training’s going good,” he says, adding that “it feels great” to be back at Madison Square Garden, one of the top places on earth for a boxer to build a reputation.
Photo Credit: Lamont Roach Twitter Account
Roach admits that the time may come where he may have to leave home base to train for his bouts. At the moment, however, he and his team are comfortable doing their prep work in familiar territory. “Training camp was home in D.C.,” he says. “We didn’t have too many distractions.” The more a fighter rises, however, the more his every move can be visible to the public at large…and Roach is already earning a solid fan base for himself. There’s “two private buses, fifty-five seaters,” filled with Roach fans heading to New York for the Mercado fight, after all. Plus, Roach adds there’s “a lot of family” that will be going to New York on their own to watch the battle.
Part of the appeal of Roach is his winning personality, though he admits that it hasn’t been difficult to charm the boxing public to date. “I haven’t gotten my feathers ruffled yet,” he admits. Such things, however, may eventually come with the territory occupied by a fighter on the way up. Golden Boy Promotions, which promotes Roach, is quite aware of the pitfalls of rising fame, yet obviously feels Roach is up to the challenge. “I appreciate everything that Golden Boy has done for me,” Roach says. “I reward them by working (hard).”
Mercado will be the second southpaw in a row that Roach has faced. Roach feels confident facing another lefty. “It’s becoming kind of natural,” he says of the ability to successfully engage with southpaws. “Whatever they throw in front of us, we’re ready.” Roach realizes that, should he win on the 15th, the road to bigger things will be wide open. “Right now,” says Roach, “we’re focused on the 15th.” Roach is aware, however, of exactly where he stands and where he wants to be. “We’re ranked number five by the WBO,” he says. The man is looking forward to a shot at a championship.
“I’ll be one of the better champions,” he says, adding that, unlike some, he’ll be sure to “be active,” after he reaches the top of his division.