By Alex Burgos
Posted: March 7, 2016
On Saturday, March 5, 2016, Golden Boy Promotions presented an exciting nine-bout fight card from the DC Armory in Washington, DC.
The HBO telecast featured two fights–Sadam Ali vs. Jessie Vargas and Luis Ortiz vs. Tony Thompson–but it was the non-televised undercard bouts which featured the most crowd interaction thanks to a slew of top east coast prospects in the Golden Boy Promotions stable.
Fighters like Damon Allen, Zachary Ochoa and Todd Unthank-May all received strong support from fans who traveled from Philadelphia and New York.
Some of the loudest ovations were showered upon three particular prospects–Lamont Roach Jr. (10-0, 3 KOs), D’Mitrius Ballard (12-0, 8 KOs) and Kevin Rivers Jr. (13-1, 10 KOs)–who all fight out of the NoXcuse Boxing Club in Capital Heights, MD.
The DMV (DC, Maryland and Virginia) support was strong–with Roach personally accounting for 500 tickets sold on his own–and were treated to three solid matches from the hometown fighters.
Led by head trainer Bernard Roach and his brother Lamont Roach Sr., the fighters have an experienced and knowledgeable team developing their skills.
Roach Jr. opened up the international telecast against hard-nosed Mexican fighter, Jesus Lule in the first eight-round bout of Roach Jr.’s career.
Roach Jr. got off to a blistering start and showed off the pedigree that made him an 11-time amateur champion. Patiently working behind a high guard and a sharp jab, Roach Jr. mixed hard shots to the head and body which eventually overwhelmed and dropped Lule in the first.
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Though he came out more measured in Round 3, Roach Jr. continued to get the best of the exchanges as Lule showed tremendous toughness, continuing to come forward.
“I feel very good–didn’t get the knockout, but it still feels good to get the decision,” said Roach Jr. after the victory.
Indeed, the knockout was something Roach Jr.’s corner would have liked as well, but the technique he displayed throughout the eight rounds was definitely something that boxing fans appreciated.
“He was a tough guy, we expect them to always be tough, that’s what we train for,” said Roach Jr. “I’m looking forward to staying busy this year and moving up in rounds.”
On Friday, Ballard’s opponent, Leosvy Mayedo, came in at a rotund and questionable weight of 175 pounds, a full weight class above Ballard who came in at 168.2 pounds.
When we asked Roach Sr. if the weight difference would be an issue, he assured us that Ballard would be ready.
Ballard came out intent on working the soft midsection of Mayedo, but took his time in feeling out his opponent in the first.
In Round 2, Ballard stepped on the gas and banged Mayedo with body shots that would have crippled a Heavyweight.
“By the beginning of the second round I knew I had him and it was only a matter of time,” said Ballard.
“It’s been three years since I fought here, coming back and fighting in front of my hometown is very rewarding.”
To the delight of his fans, Ballard dropped Mayedo three times in the second round, each time with body shots and earned a technical knockout victory.
Entering the ring for the first time since losing his first professional fight on the Lucas Matthysse vs. Viktor Postol card in October of 2015, Palmer Park, MD’s own Rivers Jr. took on Tijuana, Mexico’s Angel Aispuro in a bout scheduled for six rounds.
Considering that he was looking to get back in the win column in front of hundreds of local supporters, Rivers could have easily been distracted and in for a letdown.
Instead, he showed veteran poise as he calmly walked Aispuro down throughout the fight, investing in body work from the onset.
Rivers landed well-timed lead rights early on in the fight, continually beating Aispuro to the punch, although the tough Mexican waived him in for more.
In the sixth round, Rivers opened a huge cut on Aispuro’s ear which painted the canvas red and led the ringside doctor to stop the bout.
“I felt very strong and prepared for this fight,” Rivers said.
“I felt like I had a lot to prove tonight and my goal was to secure a victory in front of my hometown,” said Rivers Jr.
“Not only did I do that tonight but I also put on a good show and made my hometown proud.”