Lamont Roach Sr. admits the only defeat of his son’s career has turned Lamont Roach Jr. into a better fighter.

In 2019, in Fresno, Roach Jr. lost a close decision to Jamel Herring. The Roach family dispute the loss, and – one the receiving end – they felt they were written off by many for the first loss of Roach Jr.’s career.

“It’s tough. If you’re not prepared for it, it can be a cold world out there,” said Roach Sr. 

“When you take a defeat it’s a lesson. People write you off, just the day before that fight Lamont was considered one of the best. Even after that fight we still made the top 25 under 25 list for ESPN. We were 14, but still I think people were trying to write us off, so I’m glad we proved them wrong and gave hope to other people in our situation – in that it can be done. It’s not the end. We just kept pushing. We kept grinding and we believed. We believed we were one of the best in the world, had a setback, we were young, we still thought we should have won that fight, but it made him a better fighter.”

The father and son duo feels fate conspired against them for the Herring fight, although Jr. has won five since. 

“Coming in, being a A-side your whole career, then you’re on a B-side, that deck’s stacked against you, different promoter’s card… It was around Veteran’s Day [Herring was a former marine]. There were a whole lot of things at play that night…” 

Regardless, Roach is the WBA super featherweight champion and he makes the first defense of his title on Friday (June 27) against unbeaten New York-based Irishman Feargal McCrory at the Entertainment and Sports Arena in Washington.   

Roach Sr. hopes it could be a new advent to boxing in Washington, where his son is already popular and has always wanted to cultivate a following.

“Hopefully so,” said Sr, who is promoting the show along with ProBox TV, who stream the fight on Friday night. “He always wanted to give back to his fans, his fanbase here where he started. He loved fighting here since he was a kid and loved the support for his debut here in DC. It was electrifying here. He definitely wants the big fights here at home but most of the promoters don’t want to come here for their own reasons, but hopefully we can have a run of shows and get some other champions locally, get some more champions from our area and run some real major cards going forward.”

Roach is now 24-1-1 (9 KOs) and it has been an emotional journey. He was being trained by his cousin, Bernard Roach, but Bernard passed away while they were in training camp for a fight in 2017. Roach Sr., already a busy camp member, took the reins through a period that challenged them both.

“I was in the gym with him working every day, travelling, pro and amateur,” said Sr. “It [the training set-up] changed because he meant so much to the program, to my son, because we’re family first and that impact alone as a man was just a tremendous loss. It was definitely a change, but it was a smooth transition.

“My son definitely thinks about him. He dedicates each fight to my cousin, he believes he’s still with us in spirit, but it’s definitely motivation. He has his name tattooed on the back of his neck. We would always go to him for advice and tutelage over the years. We still take him with us, and it keeps him going. It’s still his motivation.”

And despite the tragic loss, Jr. went through with the fight and won a 10-round decision over Rey Perez.

“We were scheduled to fight. That was tough,” said Sr. “But it speaks to the mental standpoint that Lamont had, dealing with that, being able to perform, because it was a great loss. It hurt him real bad, but he knew Coach Roach would have wanted him to continue fighting because that’s what we trained for, and he knew Coach would have wanted him to have that fight. He dedicated that fight to him.”

And then, in November 2023, Jr. fulfilled their dreams when he defeated Garcia for the title. There was, of course, an added meaning behind it, having lost in their first world title fight, from the loss of a family and team member, to being atop of the sport.

“It meant the world. The world championship meant the world to us,” said Sr. “It was proving it to ourselves, cos we knew. We had no doubt that we were going to win that fight. A lot of people questioned us but we knew we were going to be victorious. We bet on ourselves leading up, going in as a free agent, not signing with anyone at the time, and it played out. It felt great. I can’t describe the feeling. I still get goosebumps to this day. I’m so proud of him.”

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