by Cliff Rold
27-year old Jr. Welterweight Lamont Peterson (29-1-1, 15 KO) of Memphis, Tennessee, put himself in the thick of title contention on Friday night at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, Nevada with a dominant performance against 26-year old Victor Cayo (26-2, 18 KO) of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, culminating with the stoppage in the twelfth and final round of an IBF eliminator.
Peterson weighed in spot on the Jr. Welterweight limit of 140 lbs., Cayo a shade under at 139 ½.
A deliberate first round picked up with a single shot in the final thirty seconds. A clubbing overhand right landed on the head of Cayo and Cayo went down. However, as replays would affirm, Kenny Bayless ruled the punch had landed behind the head. Specifically, the blow landed on the neck of Cayo.
Both men missed loaded right hands early in round two but, as the round progressed, the lankier and more fluid Cayo, his left hand often dangling by his hip, began to find a home for a rhythmic left and some looping rights. Peterson, steady and fundamentally sound behind a high and tight guard, did his best work as Cayo was pressed towards the ropes.
The action had an air of frantic focus as the round unfolded, Peterson scoring with a right hand in the fourth that appeared to briefly rock Cayo. Otherwise, both men worked hard to find openings, taking turns leading with Peterson having the narrow best of it playing the counterpuncher. Another big right closing in on the final minute of the fifth didn’t budge Cayo but bolstered the confidence of a Peterson who went to his toes as he circled the ring.
By the seventh, the greater strength of Peterson was paying visible dividends as he dug into the body of Cayo, but lacked the singular power to give the fight a definitive turn. Instead, each round largely mirrored the one before, Cayo valiantly slinging shots, only to ultimately walk into a body shaking right hand over the top or left hook.
It came to a head in the twelfth round. Thirty seconds in, a perfectly timed right hand caught Cayo and sent him backwards. Planting his feet, Cayo ate another right flush and then a left as he slid towards the ropes from ring center. Showing heart, Cayo looked to hold and let loose a mighty haymaker off the ropes, Peterson’s assault stemmed. Cayo found room for his left but Peterson stayed to the flanks. A leveraged right on the ropes hurt Cayo in the final minute and moments later he took a knee to avoid further punishment. Bayless hit the count of nine, Cayo looking up at him disoriented, before finally waving the fight closed at 2:46 of round twelve.
Both Cayo’s losses have come by stoppage to legitimate top ten Jr. Welterweights, the other levied by hard punching Marcos Maidana. For Peterson, the win marks his third stop in five contests that also include his only career blemishes: a title decision loss to Timothy Bradley and draw with now-reigning WBC Welterweight titlist Victor Ortiz. Having won this IBF eliminator, Peterson is potentially in line for a crack at unified IBF/WBA titlist Amir Khan.
Peterson’s fight was not the only affair with some Khan shadow.
One week after some questioned his knockout call on a borderline low blow in Amir Khan-Zab Judah, referee Vic Drakulich again found himself linked to the cup. With a quick eye to point deductions, Drakulich disqualified 30-year old Colombian Edison Miranda (34-6, 29 KO), 174, of Carolina, Puerto Rico, in round number five after a third infraction for low blows. 31-year old Cuban Yordanis Despaigne (9-1, 4 KO), 175, of Miami, Florida, was winning the rounds but Miranda’s pressure was making a fight of things in Light Heavyweight action.
Matters began to unravel at the bell ending the second when a shot that looked questionable as far as low blows go sent Despaigne into theatrical spasms of pain. Drakulich immediately took a point and, quickly into the third, did so again for what was decidedly a foul shot. The same could be said of the blow that brought about the end of the contest at: 45 of the fifth round, though it must be noted that many other fights have seen the road to disqualification harder traveled.
For Despaigne, the victory brings him right back to the winner’s circle after a tough decision loss earlier this year to undefeated Ismail Sillakh. The 2004 Cuban Olympian continues his work towards contention at 175 lbs. Miranda, alternately, suffers his third loss in five starts. The former Middleweight contender and Super Middleweight title challenger is in desperate need of a notable win and may already have crossed into the realm of the opponent.
Super Middleweight: Badou Jack (7-0, 6 KO) TKO2 Timothy Hall Jr. (6-12, 4 KO)
The card was televised in the U.S. on ESPN2 as part of its “Friday Night Fights” series, promoted by Warriors Boxing in association with Blue Wave Group.
Cliff Rold is a member of the Ring Magazine Ratings Advisory Panel, the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]