Although junior lightweight Lamont Roach Jr. remains undefeated, the Upper Marlboro, Maryland, prospect is still smarting from the only blemish on his record, a 10-round draw with Orlando Cruz in April 2018. Instead of an intended step up in the quality of opposition, the bout with the Puerto Rican veteran turned out to be a step sideways.
Roach (16-0-1, 6 KOs) is planning on returning to his winning ways when he faces Deivis "El Cabo" Julio Bassa (20-2, 12 KOs) on Friday at the Grand Oasis Cancun. The bout will headline a Golden Boy on ESPN card in Cancun, Mexico.
The Cruz fight, which took place in Puerto Rico, was very competitive. Roach got off to a slow start but came on strong late in the 10-rounder. In the ninth round, Roach floored Cruz with a left hook, but referee Luis Pabon ruled that it was a slip, which resulted in the draw verdict.
"We thought we were going to get Cruz in a rematch, but it didn't work out," said Roach's father and trainer, Lamont Sr. "Deivis has a little different style. Deivis will mix it up a little more, but we're prepared for it. He does counterpunch but doesn't move as much as Cruz. He's going to come to win and we expect the best Deivis."
Arguably Roach's most impressive victory to date was a unanimous 10-round decision over Jesus A. Valdez in June 2017. Valdez entered the match with a 20-2-1 record, including nine KOs.
The 37-year-old Bassa, of Monteria, Colombia, got off to a late start, turning pro at the age of 32 in March 2013 following a lengthy amateur career, highlighted by a silver medal at the 2010 South American Games.
The left-handed Bassa won his first 17 pro bouts, but he has gone 3-4 with one no-contest in his past eight fights. In his most recent match, Julio knocked out Yohangel Romero in the fifth round in February 2018.
"It's an honor to fight in the main event of a Golden Boy Promotions card," Bassa said. "Roach Jr. is one of the biggest 130-pound contenders, and I'm coming to take his undefeated record. I've seen many things that I will take advantage of. This is my time to shine."
Roach, however, has expectations of his own.
"Julio is a tough fighter with a lot of experience," Roach said, "but after facing a world title challenger in Orlando Cruz, I'm confident that I'll look spectacular in my third main event fight on ESPN."
In the co-feature, Cancun's Alexis "El Peje" Bastar (10-1-1, 5 KOs) takes on Rigoberto "Mowgly" Nava (3-2-4) of Mexico City in a schedule eight-round junior featherweight bout.
Bastar, 26, is the brother of strawweight Julian "El Nino Artillero" Yedas.
Despite Nava's unimpressive record, he is matched against Bastar because the pair fought an entertaining six-round draw in November 2017. Since their first encounter, Bastar has won three in a row, two by decision and one by knockout.
The original Bastar bout was the first of three consecutive stalemates for the 20-year-old Nava. The third draw and his most recent fight came against Abisal Palomo in May 2018.
"My style is aggressive," Nava said. "It does not change. I always push forward."