With the possibility of a world title fight on the horizon, junior lightweight contender Lamont Roach is not overlooking Jonathan Oquendo.
Rather, Roach is looking forward to facing a fighter the caliber of Oquendo to see if he has what it takes to enter the upper echelon of fighters at 130 pounds.
Roach will square off against Oquendo Saturday night at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The 10-round bout will open the DAZN stream (9 p.m. ET/ 6 p.m. PT) that will be headlined by the middleweight unification bout between Canelo Alvarez and Daniel Jacobs.
The 23-year-old Roach (18-0-1, 7 knockouts), who resides in Upper Marlboro, Md., last fought on Dec. 15, defeating Alberto Mercado by unanimous decision in New York City.
Oquendo is not the first notable fighter Roach will have faced. Roach squared off against former world title challenger Orlando Cruz on Apr. 19 of last year, fighting to a split-decision draw in a fight many thought Roach did enough to win.
After facing and beating modest opposition thus far, Roach believes he is ready to face a fighter like Oquendo, who has fought in three weight divisions.
“The time is now for those who haven’t seen me,” said Roach earlier this week. “This is the type of opponent that we’ve been waiting for, for a long time. This is where we are going to capitalize and show that we are ready for a world title in the 130-pound division. This is not the first time I’ve faced a veteran and probably not the last time. We trained our asses off in camp, we had good sparring, good strength and conditioning camp, trained mentally, and I’m just ready to be a world titlist and it starts with Saturday night (against Oquendo).”
Oquendo (30-5, 19 KOs), who resides in Vega Alta, Puerto Rico, has won his last four bouts since his decision loss to then-WBA featherweight titleholder Jesus Cuellar in December of 2015.
The 35-year-old Oquendo has pulled off upset victories in his career, including a majority-decision victory over former world titleholder Jhonny Gonzalez in September of 2015. Oquendo is ranked No. 5 by the WBO, with Roach ranked three spots higher.
Roach knows what he is getting himself into Saturday night against Oquendo.
“Obviously he’s a veteran in the ring,” said Roach, who studied engineering in college before dedicating himself to boxing. “He’s tough, he’s gritty, he has a lot of victories and a lot of experience, but that’s nothing new to me. There’s been plenty of veterans in front of me.”
“I’m definitely going to use my reach and my height but that’s not the only thing I’m going to use. My power, my speed, my mental, I’m going to put it all together and put on a spectacular show.”
Roach, who has been promoted by Golden Boy since his pro debut in April of 2014, believes he has the mental capacity to put forth a solid performance. He also believe that a world title opportunity could become a reality soon, and an impressive victory over Oquendo could speed that process along.
“Mentally, I have been preparing. I am training my body and my mind. I want to get out of the ring with the win, no questions asked. I have a great game plan and I can’t wait to see it all unfold beautifully in the ring on Saturday night.”
“I’m looking to capitalize and advance my career, advance my status, and become world champion.”
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