The circumstances have changed several times in the span that a fight with Rene Alvarado has been on the radar of Lamont Roach Jr.
“He’s been on my radar, I want to say since 2015,” Roach told BoxingScene.com. “We were on the same Fox Sports show in Philadelphia. He’s always had a reputation for taking on tough opponents, even back then. I’ve wanted him for a while and especially when he was still world champion.
“I thought we would have fought earlier than this, but here we are fighting on a big platform. It was just meant to work out this way.”
The junior lightweight fight is part of Golden Boy Promotions’ final show of 2021, which airs Saturday evening on DAZN from AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. The card includes longtime rivals Seniesa Estrada (21-0, 8KOs) and Marlen Esparza (10-1, 1KO) in separate title defenses and former super middleweight titlist Gilberto ‘Zurdo’ Ramirez (42-0, 28KOs) in a light heavyweight title eliminator.
Roach (21-1-1, 9KOs) lands on the card in hopes of securing a second major title fight. The 26-year-old contender from the greater Washington D.C. area suffered his only career loss in a narrow decision to then-WBO junior lightweight titlist Jamel Herring in November 2019.
The fight took place two weeks prior to Nicaragua’s Alvarado (32-10, 21KOs) winning the WBA “World” junior lightweight title via seventh-round knockout of Andrew Cancio, avenging a knockout loss from nearly four years prior. Roach discussed with Golden Boy—who promotes both fighters—the possibility of entering the title mix in 2020, with such a fight very much on the table. The global pandemic forced everyone to regroup, with travel restrictions leaving Alvarado unable to defend his title until earlier this year.
It didn’t come against Roach but rather a rematch with Venezuela’s Roger Gutierrez, whom Alvarado previously defeated in a one-sided seventh-round stoppage in July 2017.
A repeat win would have paved the way for Roach to land a second title shot, only for Alvarado to lose the belt in similar fashion to how it was won—with a past result avenged, only with a less desirable result for the Nicaraguan. Gutierrez scored three knockdowns to claim a twelve-round decision and the title in their January 2 rematch, losing in more convincing fashion in their August 14 rubber match.
Meanwhile, Roach has won two straight since his loss to Herring. Both have come via early knockout, including a two-round wipeout of former title challenger Daniel Rosas on a July 7 card also headlined by Ramirez. Roach immediately called for the winner of Gutierrez-Alvarado III, only for Gutierrez to remain locked into a mandatory title defense versus Chris Colbert.
The alternative works out just fine for the junior lightweight title hopeful.
“This is where I belong. I belong on a stage like this, facing world class opposition like this,” insists Roach. “Rene Alvarado is only two fights removed from being world champion. If I can’t get the world champions in the ring, these are the guys I want to fight. I’m not surprised he accepted it. Rene has a history of taking tough fights. If I had to pick someone in the division that would have fought me, it would be him.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox