By Jake Donovan
In the days leading up to his career-defining win over Amir Khan, Lamont Peterson drew a slew of boxing talent to his Washington D.C. homecoming last December. Among those in attendance was then-newly crowned 130 lb. titlist Adrien Broner, who came out to support his ‘big brother.’
This time around, it was Peterson who came out in support of Broner for last weekend’s title defense against Eloy Perez in St. Louis. The HBO-televised co-feature bout saw Broner deliver arguably his most complete performance to date, having his way with the previously unbeaten challenger before knocking him out in four rounds.
During the time between the ring clearing and the crowd awaiting the evening’s main event between Devon Alexander and Marcos Maidana, Peterson was asked his thoughts on his upcoming May 19 rematch with Amir Khan. The bout will take place at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas and will air live on HBO, who presented their first bout last December.
Peterson’s win over Khan served as one of the year’s biggest surprises, but whose celebration was disrupted by the manner in which Khan and Golden Boy Promotions chose to accept defeat.
Official protests were filed over what was suggested to be shoddy officiating – in particular by that of referee Joseph Cooper, who docked two points from Khan for holding – and a disturbance from a man (later identified as Mustafa Ameen) who was suggested to have distracted the sanctioning body officials at ringside.
The sour grapes sat none too well with Peterson or his team, in particular his trainer/manager/father figure Barry Hunter, who wisely forced Golden Boy Promotions to sweat out negotiations for a rematch since one wasn’t owed to Khan. Hunter refused to allow Peterson to become saddled up with a promoter on a long term basis after separate stints with Top Rank and Golden Boy Promotions.
The move was considered a risk, especially after they turned down an offer to fight Khan in England earlier last year. Instead, Hunter looked like a genius, getting his fighter a title challenge in his hometown along with a career-high payday, all while keeping his fighter an unrestricted free agent.
Rather than be tied down with Golden Boy and forced into a rematch, Peterson was able to negotiate one on his own terms, while simultaneously remaining in the running for a lucrative showdown with Manny Pacquiao.
Ultimately, Pacquiao settled on Tim Bradley – whom soundly defeated Peterson in Dec. ’09, serving as his lone loss to date. Soon thereafter, Peterson agreed to terms for a Khan rematch.
Rather than spitefully holding Khan’s past comments over him and refusing to do business, Peterson instead uses it as motivation and remains focused on the task at hand.
“It makes me work that much harder and get ready for my next fight,” Peterson insists as he prepares for a fight that will earn the D.C. product his first-ever seven-figure payday. “I just block out (Khan’s comments) and train hard.”
Within his comments came the suggestion that he was always open to a Khan rematch, but choosing to weigh all options before agreeing to the fight. The goal all along was to engage in the most enticing fight demanded by his fans, which leads to the May 19 showdown.
“I'm the champ. The fans want to see the fight again so we're doing it.”
The beauty of winning the first fight in any series is that the onus is on the losing fighter to make the necessary adjustments in order to get it right the second time around. That said, Peterson was not without flaw in last December’s fight. The former amateur standout suffered an opening round knockdown and was forced to battle from behind for much of the fight. As mentioned earlier, the aid of two points docked from Khan’s tally for excessive holding went a long way in securing Peterson the split decision nod.
To his credit, he recognizes what he needs to fix to not rely on sidebars in order to repeat in May.
“Jabbing more, moving my hands more, make the win come easier and knock him out next time,” Peterson states, though stopping way short of revealing the entire game plan. “He's working on changing his game plan, while I'm just focusing on getting in the ring.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter at twitter.com/JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to [email protected]