By Cliff Rold
In front of a lively crowd announced at 5,668 in the DC Armory in Washington, DC on Saturday night, 30-year old IBF 140 lb. titlist and hometown favorite Lamont Peterson (32-2-1, 16 KO) rebounded from a non-title knockout loss to Lucas Matthysse in 2013 to make his second successful title defense with a unanimous decision over tough 31-year old Haitian challenger Dierry Jean (25-1, 17 KO) of Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
Both men came in below the division limit, Peterson at 139 ½ and Jean at 139. The referee was Roberto Ramirez.
The first round began as a chess match, both men sticking out the left jab. Peterson was the first to open up, throwing a right to the head and later the body. Jean followed suit late in an opening round where neither man did much to distinguish themselves. Jean landed some good rights in the early part of round two, Peterson responding as the round wore on with a rattling left hook. Jean closed with a series of big punches in the final thirty seconds.
Round three brought both Peterson’s local fans and Jean’s noisy Canadian contingent out of their seats as the fighters took turns teeing off with wicked power shots. Late in the round, Jean seemed to wobble but he came back with hard rights. A serious fight had broken out.
With his brother Anthony imploring him from ringside not to forget about the jab, Peterson made his best luck to the body while Jean continued to land eye-catching rights in the fourth. The body shots paid big dividends in round five. Grinding away inside, there was a notable shift to Peterson as the round wore on. Jean was catching and had little to answer with as Peterson taunted him with bolo feints and confidently walked away from Jean at one point, daring him back into the trenches.
With the crowd letting roar a chant of “DC,” Peterson used a bludgeoning offensive assault to keep Jean pinned to the ropes for long stretches of the sixth. Jean shook his head to say Peterson wasn’t hurting him, and still had mustard as he fired back, but he was surely taking the worst of it.
While Peterson had another good round in the seventh, Jean rebounded a bit from the previous by landing some stiff rights early and late. It wasn’t enough to change the direction of the fight, but it showed him still in it. Jean dug deeper in the eighth, quieting the Peterson faithful with hard body and head shots. Peterson was still firing but, for a round at least, the pendulum swung in an exacting contest still in the air with four rounds remaining.
With both men showing fatigue, the ninth saw each with solid moments. Peterson was more often on the front foot and it remained to be seen if Jean could hurt the champion. Jean opted to box in the tenth before a ruled low blow brought a brief pause to the action. Peterson used the break for a deep breath and resumed action with some hard rights and lefts upstairs.
Entering the championship rounds, Peterson looked close to victory but fought leaving nothing to chance. Jean ate a nasty right on the ropes, then a right to the head and left to the body in the corner. With three minutes to go, Jean was clearly behind and in need of something huge.
He didn’t get it.
Instead it was Peterson closing the show, laying some more hard leather on Jean as the challenger did his best to stay off the ropes. Peterson landed the best shots of the round, the night, and at the closing bell there was little doubt the champion would exit with the title he arrived with.
Scores came in at a too close 115-113, 116-112, and perhaps too wide 118-111. Regardless, the winner was correctly anointed.
Speaking through a translator, Jean chalked up the fight to Peterson having greater experience. His disappointment took nothing from a game effort in a good fight. Peterson was pleased to put the Matthysse loss behind him. “It made me work harder to show people I still got it.”
Asked why he would ever fight outside of a Washington, DC, where he is undefeated, Peterson said, “If it was up to me, I’d never leave.” Of course, any big win is followed by questions of tomorrow. Peterson, asked if he might look to move to Welterweight, said,“I would like to be considered the best 140 pounder before I leave so if it’s (Lineal/WBC/WBA champion) Danny Garcia next, that’s what it is.”
After Saturday, Garcia-Peterson sounds like a worthy destination for the still hot Jr. Welterweight division.
In co-support, a new contender emerged at Jr. Middleweight.
Undefeated 23-year old Jermell Charlo (23-0, 11 KO), 153, of Houston, Texas, passed the stiffest test of his career to date with a decisive unanimous decision victory over 28-year old two-time former Middleweight challenger Gabriel Rosado (21-8, 13 KO), 154, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Rosado was cut in the fifth round and fought from behind for much of the contest. The referee was Malik Walid.
Rosado came out firing right away, landing a quick right hand. Charlo was backed to the topes but stayed composed and, as the round settled, began to unspool his own offense. Working off the jab, Charlo used the ring to keep space. Late in the frame, both men were firing hard in the corner.
In the second round, it was a pair of Charlo left hands that left the greatest impression. Charlo left even more impressions on the face of Rosado in the third, bruising both sides of his face under the eyes with an assortment of left jabs, quick rights, and left hooks. In return, Rosado found mostly defensive glove.
Charlo continued to box well in the fourth before Rosado broke through with a thudding right. Charlo took the punch well and kept his hands moving. Rosado’s left eye was worsened and his corner worked hard to contain the swelling before the fifth. Charlo worked harder to bust it up more, landing a snapping right after two hard body shots. The left eye opened up, a crimson stream visible on the face of Rosado. Rosado wiped the blood away and pushed forward.
For most of the next two rounds, Charlo held serve with more accurate shots but late in the seventh Charlo found his way past the guard of Charlo, following an exchange of body shots with a right to the head along the ropes. Rosado, flinging the blood away from his eye, kept some momentum in the eighth, pressing and landing hard to the body against a Charlo whose output appeared to drop. The crowd approved violent trading before the bell.
Charlo was back in control in the ninth, chopping at Rosado with the right and blocking the best of what came back. With a round to go, Rosado looked to need a dramatic change of fortune. It wouldn’t come though he made a go at it. Both men let the leather fly in a hard hitting final round, Rosado doing more to make the action but each landing quality shots before raising their hands at the bell.
Charlo was awarded scores of 97-93, 99-91, and a shutout 100-90, the last of them drawing a surprising gasp from the crowd in attendance. Interviewed in the ring after the fight, Rosado was disappointed with the lopsided scores and yet another cut. “It’s kind of like, my Achilles heel I guess, you know? It is what it is. It’s disappointing. I’m forced to fight this way, aggressive…because you look at the scorecards, it’s crazy.”
Charlo had a victor’s smile. “Gabriel Rosado was a tough fighter. He came to fight…I want to give him his props.” Asked about his response to the cut, stated as caused by a butt during the interview, Charlo said, “Once I seen the eye first started leaking (I thought) let’s finish this eye and see what the doctors do.” He didn’t need the doctors on this night. His surgical rights and lefts took care of everything he needed.
While Jermell takes a step towards contention, Charlo’s twin brother Jermall (17-0, 13 KO) joined him in the ring as a future title challenger. Jermall challenges IBF 154 lb. titlist Carlos Molina (22-5, 6 KO) on March 8th in Las Vegas.
The card was broadcast on Showtime as part of its “Championship Boxing” series, promoted by Golden Boy Promotions. Showtime will replay the event on Sunday, January 26, at 9 PM EST/PST and Tuesday, January 28, at 10 PM EST/PST.
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene and a member of the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]