By Rick Reeno
The boxing world got a shock on Thursday afternoon, when Golden Boy Promotions announced that an agreement was reached for a highly anticipated rematch between WBA/IBF junior welterweight champion Lamont Peterson and former two-division beltholder Amir Khan. The rematch between Khan (26-2, 18 KOs) and Peterson (30-1-1, 15 KOs) will take place on May 19th at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. HBO will televise the contest.
Top Rank had offered Peterson a lucrative two-fight package, which included a July 14th title bout with Juan Manuel Marquez at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. If Peterson would have beaten Marquez, the promise of a fall contest with Manny Pacquiao was also being discussed.
On December 10th in Washington, DC, Peterson won a controversial twelve round split decision to capture the IBF/WBA titles from Khan. Appeals were filed to the sanctioning organizations, and weeks of controversy followed, but at the end of the day both boxers wanted the fight.
"I like to do things behind the scenes and get fights done before I go and talk about them. That has sort of been my philosophy and it has served me well. I think it took a lot of people by surprise that we announced this fight today because everyone else was reporting that he was going to be fighting Marquez. I'm very happy that Peterson-Khan is going to happen, because this is one of those fights that fight fans really want to see," said Richard Schaefer, CEO of Golden Boy Promotions, to BoxingScene.com.
"They are great athletes. The first fight was very competitive, very close and somewhat controversial as well. Controversy sells, but I think in this particular fight you can put these guys in the ring ten times and ten times it will produce terrific and close fights. I'm also happy that ultimately it came down to Lamont Peterson and Amir Khan accepting to fight each other. It wasn't the sanctioning organizations or media pressure or the fight fans. It was these two fighters who realized that it was the right to do for themselves and the right to do for the sport is to fight each other again and for that I applaud them."
The negotiations lingered on for weeks and there was heavy speculation that Peterson was going to accept the fight with Marquez - especially with a Pacquiao opportunity being dangled above the fight. Peterson, who earned $650,000 for the first contest, will make substantially more for the rematch. And Khan sweetened the pot by agreeing to a 50-50 split of the worldwide revenues.
"Top Rank offered me a fight against Pacquiao too. They are offering Pacquiao to everybody. Some people realized that Pacquiao can't fight three guys in one night. Ultimately this was the fight that Peterson wanted. He knew it was going to be a big fight. He knew it was going to be a big payday," Schaefer said.
Peterson-Khan will create Saturday night fireworks, but the opening fight will set the tone in a big way - as Golden Boy has nearly completed a deal for a junior welterweight punch-out between Lucas Matthysse (29-2, 27 KOs) of Argentina and former titleholder Humberto Soto (57-7-2, 34 KOs) of Mexico.
"We're getting close to getting Humberto Soto against Lucas Mattghysse as the opening bout. This is another barnburner. This is another fight that has 'Fight of The Year' written all over it. I can't remember the last time that HBO or anyone else had a doubleheader, a one-two punch like that - Soto and Matthysse and Peterson and Khan. It doesn't get any better than that," Schaefer said.
"This is not gong to be a dance fest. They are going to be toe to toe battles and these are going to be exciting fights and that's what what we like to deliver fighter after fight, month after month, and that is what we focus on. We just do what we do best - and that's make the biggest fights."