Lamont Peterson, fighting to defend his reputation as well as a world title after a positive doping test, ends a 14-month layoff Friday in a hometown bout against fellow American Kendall Holt.
Peterson, once a homeless child on the streets of Washington, completed a fairytale in December of 2011 with a controversial split-decision victory over England's Amir Khan for two world light-welterweight titles in the US capital.
But the glory soon faded as a big-money rematch with Khan was scrapped after Peterson tested positive for synthetic testosterone and high testosterone levels, failing the very voluntary doping tests that he had insisted upon.
Peterson, who had been dealing with low testosterone health issues, had the World Boxing Association title revoked but the International Boxing Federation kept him as champion on appeal, considering later tests that Peterson passed.
But the fight with Holt isn't dubbed "Redemption" for nothing.
"Probably until the day I die they will say certain things," Peterson said Wednesday. "Once the doctor told me there was no steroid in my body and I didn't do anything illegal, I was like, 'Did my doctor give me anything?'
"We're in there fighting and rebuilding. Even taking that fight away, you have still got to say Lamont Peterson is a great fighter."
Peterson, 30-1-1 with 15 knockouts, has not fought since defeating Khan but says the rest and gym workouts have made him a better fighter, not a rusty one.
"I don't think it's going to affect me at all," Peterson said. "A 14-month layoff did me some justice rather than hurt me. It allowed my body to rest and let me work on some things. I was in the gym the whole 14 months. You should see a better Lamont Peterson rather than a ring-rusted Lamont Peterson."
This time, Peterson is having only the basic drug test programme.
"In the future I will do my best to do random testing, but random drug tests aren't cheap," Peterson said, adding that the basic test "is not a test you can just get over on."
Khan complained about the referee in his Washington loss, saying he should not have had two points deducted for pushing -- points that were the difference between a loss and a majority draw that would have kept him as champion.
But Holt said he was not worried about fighting in the champion's hometown, citing a South American bout where a man outside the ring grabbed his leg and a referee helped his opponent rise after a knockdown.
"I'm comfortable fighting anywhere," he said. "I don't expect any of that."
Holt, 28-5 with 16 knockouts, also said he was not concerned about being in the ring with Peterson despite Khan's comments after the doping test that a steroid-fueled Peterson could be a health risk for foes.
"I don't have any trepidation about that," Holt said. "I've known these guys for years. I don't think he took it for performance-enhancing reasons. Whatever he took it for, I don't think it matters. He's a great fighter."
For Holt, he is also a great opportunity.
"This fight can change my life so I'm going to take it seriously. I'm a fan of Lamont, but this is business," Holt said.
"There are so many big-money fights on the horizon if I win this fight, it will change my life. It's going to be a hard, challenging fight. It's going to last 12 rounds. We're going to have to go in there and fight our hearts out."
Instead of the $1.5 million Peterson would have made for a Khan rematch in Las Vegas, he will make $37,500 to face Holt at home.
"That has been my life story. It has been rough," said Peterson, who insists it's not about the fame or the money.
It's about redemption.
"It has been a trying time," admitted Peterson's trainer, Barry Hunter.
"We have gotten that clear. He has been totally cleared by the medical community. It was proven he didn't have an athletic performance edge. He has been vindicated by the athletic community.
"Now we need to get back to the fighting."
Tags: Kendall Holt , Lamont Peterson , Peterson-Holt , Peterson vs. Holt