Junior lightweight Maliek Montgomery is set to face Cesar Juarez on Friday but has his sights on a future bout against amateur rival and current WBA titleholder Lamont Roach Jr.

Montgomery will fight as part of the OTX 8 event, presented by Overtime Boxing (OTX), in an eight-round match in Atlanta, Georgia. Meanwhile, Roach Jr. will defend his title against Feargal McCrory in Washington, D.C., on the ProBox TV app.

Montgomery (17-0, 16 KOs), 28, from Macon, Georgia, was a top amateur but has yet to secure a significant step-up fight in his professional career. He faces Juarez (29-15, 22 KOs), 32, a former title challenger who fought Nonito Donaire tough nearly a decade ago. Montgomery aims to make a statement in this fight reminiscent of his strong amateur performances.

“I feel like I have to have a dominating, explosive performance,” Montgomery told BoxingScene. “This shouldn't go the distance at all. Regardless of who he's been in the ring with or how many rounds he has, we plan on really setting the tone for the rest of the year and showing people that we belong in the ring with the best.”

Montgomery also spoke about working with his father, Michael Montgomery, his coach from the amateurs. He reflected on the challenges of coming from Georgia, a state not as recognized in boxing as Nevada, New York, or California, despite producing notable fighters like Evander Holyfield and Brian Norman Jr., and birthing legends like Ezzard Charles and Ray Leonard.

“The amateurs were tough for me because we didn't get a fair shake in big national competitions. We weren't from the best gym or the popular cities,” Montgomery said. “We never fit the mold for how they want their Olympic fighters to fight.”

This sentiment fueled Montgomery’s determination, making him a hard-nosed fighter who used each setback as motivation. Montgomery fought with an intensity and mauling style often seen in a pro, not so much in the finesse game of amateur boxing.

“We had to be extra every time,” Montgomery said. “When we did lose, I took it to heart, went back to camp, and came back 10 times harder.”

Montgomery hinted at unfinished business with Roach Jr., recalling their amateur encounters.

“He actually beat me twice in the National Junior Olympics,” Montgomery said. “The first year I went to the National Golden Gloves, he beat me in the finals. Now we're both in the same weight class, and he's a champion. That's definitely something I want down the line.”

As for Roach Jr.’s upcoming fight, Montgomery was candid about his expectations.

“I don't think the guy he's fighting right now is at his level,” Montgomery said. “So I think he should make short work of him.”