Lambe rises to the occasion
Andre Lambe made a mockery of his underdog tag after delivering the most assured display of his amateur career against a far more experienced opponent on an emotional night at CedarBridge Academy.
Fighting for the first time without his late coach Allan “Forty” Rego in his corner, Lambe claimed a unanimous points win over Canadian Daniel Roach in “The Next Greatest” main event on Saturday.
A video tribute for Rego played moments before the ring entrances — a sombre one without musical accompaniment for Lambe, who seemed unusually anxious when he ducked under the ropes and stepped into the ring.
Any extra pressure the southpaw may have felt was understandable.
Not only had he vowed to “do it for Rego”, who died of cancer this month aged 86, Lambe was also being observed by members of the Bermuda Olympic Association, keen to catch a first glimpse of the island's most exciting amateur prospect and Olympic Games hopeful.
Lambe soon settled into his rhythm against Torontonian Roach, the most technically adept opponent to have shared the squared circle with the Bermudian, who stole a cagey first round with an eye-catching flurry moments before the bell.
Although Roach was occupying the centre of the ring, Lambe looked more than happy to prowl the perimeter and was enjoying the better of their close-range exchanges, staggering his opponent with a crisp straight left in the second.
After a premature finish to his previous bout and several walkover wins both home and abroad in the past 12 months, Lambe made no secret of his desire to face an opponent who would push him to his limit, certainly in terms of his skill level.
The tall and rangy Roach, with 15 more bouts under his belt, certainly fulfilled that requirement, connecting with a couple of hard right hands, although they were well absorbed by Lambe who countered back to good effect.
Roach was growing visibly frustrated and tried to outwork his man to post the final round in his favour, but a composed Lambe continued to find the target with greater regularity and finished strongly with a firm right hook that drew gasps of appreciation from the crowd.
When all three judges awarded the fight in his favour, Lambe dropped to the canvas through a mixture of relief and celebration, evoking memories of his maiden victory over Shane Melo, another Canuck, at the Fairmont Southampton in November 2015.
“It was a very emotional night for me,” Lambe said. “I was overwhelmed when I got the win, especially since I did it for Rego.”
Agreeing that Roach had been the most skilled adversary he had faced, Lambe described his tenth victory as the most complete and satisfying of his 13-fight career.
“[Roach] made me dig deep and we caught each other with hard shots,” said the welterweight. “I'd say he was the best opponent I've faced; he's had training in Las Vegas and I've seen him spar with some notable guys on YouTube. Coming into this fight I was the big underdog and I'm just really excited that I pulled off the win.”
The 22-year-old will now turn his attentions to the Central American and Caribbean Games qualifiers in Tijuana, Mexico, next month, where he will begin his journey to reach the 2020 Toyko Olympics.
“This was a very important and serious fight for me,” said Lambe, who was presented with his winner's medal by Bermudian professional Nikki Bascome. “Hopefully I can carry this win over to Tijuana.
“I didn't know that the Bermuda Olympic Association was here until moments before the fight. I'm just happy that people are showing an interest in what I'm doing.”
Although Roach questioned the decision of the judges, he said he was impressed with Lambe's patient and slick style.
“I thought I definitely landed more than he did and kept the pressure on him,” Roach, 22, said. “I thought the second round was the closest, but the first and third were definitely mine in my opinion. Of course, I'm biased, as I was the one fighting, but that's the sport; it's subjective.” Roach added: “I liked [Lambe]; he brought out good things in me. I've seen his style before and he's a good fighter. I enjoyed the fight.”
Tyler Christopher, another of Rego's fighters, will also head to Tijuana full of confidence after a unanimous points win over Canadian Steve Wilshire. The middleweight opened up a cut above Wilshire's left eye in the first round and used his jab to control the remainder of the encounter.
Michael Parsons suffered the first defeat of his amateur career, losing a contentious split decision to Canadian welterweight Alex Navarro.
“A true fighter can take a loss and bounce back,” said Parson, who won his previous eight bouts while living in England.
“I thought I did the cleaner work but the judges called what they called. There's no spilt milk over it. It was my first fight in Bermuda and you'll see me again.”